Appellant television show writer sought review of the decision of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California), which rendered judgments of nonsuit in favor of appellees, television photographer, studio, and producer. In one of the actions dismissed, appellant alleged fraud and conversion. In the other action, appellant alleged breach of implied contract against all appellees.
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Appellant television writer hired appellee photographer to film a pilot show involving an underwater diving theme not then known in television. Appellant held a showing of the pilot film that was attended by appellee producer, who requested a copy of appellant’s outline for future shows. Thereafter, appellees released a television series based on an underwater diving theme and the opening show had distinct similarities to a plot idea developed by appellant in his outline. Appellant filed an action against appellee producer for fraudulent conversion and filed another action against all appellees alleging breach of implied contract. The trial court nonsuited on both actions. Appellant sought review. The court reversed the nonsuit of the contract claim, finding that there were sufficient facts alleged to warrant submitting the claim to the jury because in the entertainment industry there was an understanding that a producer would pay for ideas conveyed to him or her that were put to profitable use. The court affirmed the nonsuit of the fraudulent conversion action because the plot idea in the outline had not been reduced to a property right and there could be no conversion of an idea.
The court reversed the judgment of nonsuit against appellant television writer in his action against appellee television producer, photographer and studio alleging breach of implied contract because his allegations that he presented a valuable idea to appellees who later used those ideas profitably were sufficient to submit to a jury. The court affirmed the nonsuit of the claim of fraudulent conversion because mere ideas were not protectible.