Celador Productions Ltd v Melville : Boone v ITV Network and Another : Baccini v Celador Productions Ltd & Others

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
CourtChancery Division
JudgeThe Vice-Chancellor
Judgment Date21 Oct 2004
Neutral Citation[2004] EWHC 2362 (Ch)
Docket NumberCase No: HC 03C00312, HC 03C03608, HC 03C04202

[2004] EWHC 2362 (Ch)

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

CHANCERY DIVISION

Before:

The Vice-Chancellor

Case No: HC 03C00312, HC 03C03608, HC 03C04202

Between:
Celador Productions Limited
Claimant/Applicant
and
Melville
Defendant/Respondent
Boone
Claimant/Respondent
and
Itv Network and Another
Defendants/Applicants
Baccini
Claimant/Respondent
and
Celador Productions Limited and Others
Defandants/Applicants

Mr. Richard Arnold QC and Mr. Brian Nicholson (instructed by Messrs Goodwin Derrick) for Celador Productions Ltd and its co-Defendants

Mr. Richard Spearman QC and Mr. Andrew Norris (instructed by Messrs Orchard) for Mr Melville

Mr. John Baccini In Person

Mr. Timothy Boone In Person

Approved Judgment

I direct that pursuant to CPR PD 39A para 6.1 no official shorthand note shall be taken of this Judgment and that copies of this version as handed down may be treated as authentic.

The Vice-Chancellor The Vice-Chancellor

Introduction

1

The well-known TV quiz programme "Who wants to be a Millionaire?" ("WWM") was first shown by ITV on 4th September 1998. Many episodes have been shown since. The programmes have been produced by Celador Productions Ltd ("Celador"), an independent TV production company, in accordance with a format, devised in the period 1995 to 1998 to which Celador claims to be entitled. Three individuals, namely Alan Melville, Timothy Leavey Boone and John William Baccini claim that the creation of the format and the showing of WWM is an infringement of the copyright to which each of them claims to be entitled in respect of a game devised by him as well as involving a misuse of confidential information in relation to that game.

2

Mr Melville relies on the format for a game called "Millionaires' Row" the relevant version of which he claims to have devised in April 1995. His claim was first notified to Celador in April 1999. In August 2002 he commenced copyright infringement proceedings in the District Court of California in respect of the showing of WWM in the US. This prompted Celador to institute proceedings in England in January 2003 for declarations of non-infringement. In those proceedings Mr Melville has counterclaimed for injunctions and damages in respect of both infringement of copyright and misuse of confidential information. On 30th June 2003 Celador applied for summary judgment in respect of its claim pursuant to CPR Rule 24.2.

3

Mr Boone relies on the format for a TV programme called "HELP!". He claims that this was devised by him and a Mr Bull in the period 7th to 28th October 1997. His claim was first communicated to Celador in October 2001. He commenced proceedings for infringement of copyright and misuse of confidential information against Celador on 14th October 200On 15th March 2004 Celador applied for summary judgment dismissing that claim under CPR Rule 24.2.

4

Mr Baccini claims in respect of the format for two games and the format for a TV show derived from them. The first is a board game entitled "Millionaire" devised by him in about 1982 and subsequently adapted for play on the telephone or a computer. The second is "BT Lottery" which he claims to have invented in 1990 and subsequently to have incorporated into "Millionaire". His claim was not conveyed to Celador until April 2003. Mr Baccini commenced proceedings against Celador and others for infringement of copyright and breach of confidence in December 2003. Celador applied for the summary dismissal of those claims under CPR Rule 24.2 on 18th February 2004.

5

The three applications for summary judgment issued by Celador were directed to be heard together by Lewison J on 5th April 2004 and are now before me. Though heard together the applications remain separate and in respect of claims which are factually distinct. What is common to all three applications is (a) the test to be applied under CPR Rule 24.2 and (b) the evidence as to the creation and evolution of WWM. Accordingly it is convenient to deal with those two points at the outset.

The test to be applied

6

The relevant test is laid down in CPR Rule 24.2. The court may give summary judgment against a claimant or a defendant if it considers that the claimant or defendant has "no real prospect of succeeding" on its claim or defence as the case may be and that "there is no other compelling reason why the case or issue should be disposed of at a trial". I have been referred to a number of relevant authorities by counsel for Celador and Mr Melville, namely Swain v Hillman [2001] 1 All ER 91, 94–95, Three Rivers District Council v Bank of England (No.3) [2003] 2 AC 1, 259–261 paras 90–97 and ED&F Man Liquid Products Ltd v Patel [2003] EWCA Civ 472 paras 8–11. In addition I was referred to the notes in Civil Procedure 2004 Vol.1 paras 24.2.1, 24.2.3–24.2.5.

7

From these sources I derive the following elementary propositions:

a) it is for the applicant for summary judgment to demonstrate that the respondent has no real prospect of success in his claim or defence as the case may be;

b) a "real" prospect of success is one which is more than fanciful or merely arguable;

c) if it is clear beyond question that the respondent will not be able at trial to establish the facts on which he relies then his prospects of success are not real; but

d) the court is not entitled on an application for summary judgment to conduct a trial on documents without disclosure or cross-examination.

8

For the purpose of each of the applications before me Celador accepts that the respondent has a real prospect of establishing the existence of the copyright and confidential information in respect of the work on which he relies. The question, in each case, is whether he also has a real prospect of establishing that his work was copied or his confidential information misused. Celador contends, in each case, that it is clear beyond question that he cannot. The respondents claim that the evaluation of their cases and the prolonged and detailed examination by Celador of the evidence on which they rely amounts to the conduct of a mini-trial and a usurpation of the function of the trial judge. Plainly a consideration of that submission necessarily involves engaging to some extent in the evaluation and examination to which the respondents object.

The creation and evolution of WWM

9

The evidence of Celador as to the creation and evolution of WWM is common to all three applications. It is the essential background to the claim of each respondent that his work was copied or his confidential information misused in such creation or evolution. I take the summary of that evidence substantially from the written argument for Celador.

10

The origin of WWM was a programme proposal devised by David Briggs in 1995. From 1972 to 1994 Mr Briggs had worked at Capital Radio in a number of senior positions including Head of Competitions and Executive Producer of the Chris Tarrant Show. In some of these positions he was responsible for deciding upon the use of, and in some cases devising, competitions, the majority of which were phone-in competitions in which contestants won prizes by answering a series of questions. From 1984 to 1988 his colleagues included Michael Whitehill and Steven Knight. From 1994 to 1996 Mr Briggs was Head of Marketing at GMTV, where he had responsibility for promoting competitions many of which included the use of premium rate telephone lines to answer multiple choice quizzes. Mr Briggs' proposal was for a quiz programme entitled The Cash Mountain in which contestants would answer multiple choice questions the value of which doubled with each question. After each round the contestants would have the choice of leaving the game and keeping the money they had won or staying in, with the risk that they would lose their winnings if they gave a wrong answer. The prize money was to be substantially funded by revenue from calls on premium lines from prospective contestants seeking to enter the quiz. Mr Briggs saw the programme as a vehicle for Chris Tarrant.

11

In early Autumn 1995 Mr Briggs had lunch with Mr Whitehill. Mr Briggs described his proposal to Mr Whitehill. Mr Whitehill suggested that he put the proposal in writing and send it to Paul Smith, the Chief Executive of Celador. Celador was and is a well-known independent television production company. Since 1988 Mr Whitehill and Mr Knight had been contracted to provide writing and other creative services to Celador, and they had worked on numerous projects including devising and developing three game shows. Mr Whitehill and Mr Knight shared an office at Celador's premises and saw Mr Smith regularly.

12

In October 1995 Mr Briggs produced a written proposal for The Cash Mountain dated 23 October 1995 ("Cash Mountain Version 1") which he sent to Mr Whitehill. Mr Whitehill showed this to Mr Smith, who was enthusiastic but considered that the proposal needed development. The document comprises five typed pages. The proposal involved five essential features, namely:

(1) Contestants were to be selected by correctly answering six questions over the telephone in a call by the contestant on a premium line.

(2) The prizes would be funded by the revenue to be derived from the use of the premium line.

(3) In the course of the programme a number of contestants would be asked a series of multiple choice questions. A correct answer would entitle the contestant to a money prize. Each successive prize would be double that of the earlier one but if the contestant gave a wrong answer then all previous prizes were lost.

(4) About two-thirds of the way through the programme the contestant who was then in the lead would go into 'the sweat-box' and play on alone for the highest value prizes.

(5) There were to be three optional prize structures for 20 questions. In the first option the prizes ran from £10 for question 1...

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