Television format and protection of its owner

Lawyou — jueves, 25 de febrero de 2021

Idea vs Format

In our legal system, ideas are free, so that they are not susceptible toappropriation, which would suppose a limit to creativity..


In relation to television formats, an idea of audiovisual project, even being novel, and even being written, is not always constitutive of an audiovisual format..

It is the concretion of that idea and its abstraction from the public domain that turns an idea into a format protectable by Intellectual Property rights.

Let’s think how many programs are based on similar ideas (talk shows, cooking shows, survival programs) and many coexist without exclusivity, because their development differs enough to be different formats. The line however, is blurred.

What is a television format?

We can define a television format as a detailed and original script of the program to be produced, or in other words the set of technical and artistic elements, components and characteristics (including their arrangement, structuring and interrelation), which forming a unit and a cohesive structure, and by virtue of a common thread, defines and distinguishes the program and gives it originality. .

Many of these elements and components may also be subject toindividual protection, such as the title.

As an example, let us take the media litigation appealed before the Supreme Court in relation to the format «Pasapalabra» and its exploitation by MEDIASET without the consent of its owner, ITV. In this procedure, the ownership of the format as a whole has been settled, as well as some of its fundamental elements such as the title and «el Rosco».

Legal framework of the format.

The format is usually materialized in paper or audiovisual support.

Although it is not unanimous, the doctrine tends to grant to the paper format (format paper), the condition of dramatic-literary work and to the audiovisual format (tv format) the qualification of audiovisual work or program.

Article 10.1 of the current Intellectual Property Law establishes that «all original literary, artistic or scientific creations expressed by any means or support, tangible or intangible, currently known or to be invented in the future are subject to intellectual property», and then goes on to list some examples of these creations, which are not, however, numerus clausus.

Ownership of a format, regardless of the medium in which it has been expressed or materialized, will give rise to its protection against third parties.

And what must we do to protect a format?

Its registration in a public or private intellectual property registry is very convenient, although it is not constitutive and admits proof of ownership to the contrary, if it is of an earlier date.

It is also advisable to register elements that compose it (such as trademarks, domains, logos, designs, etc.); sign confidentiality agreements and / or licensing contracts on format and know-how, or make copies of the communications that we have with third parties about our format (for a possible defense from the point of view of the Unfair Competition Law).

Do you need legal advice? .

The partners of Lawyou specialized in Audiovisual Law, Intellectual and Industrial Property, will be able to solve any doubt you may have.

In LAWYOU we have lawyers with many years of experience in different branches of law, including surrogacy. If you have any doubt or legal problem, do not hesitate to contact us to tell us about your case through our email or, if you prefer, you can also call us at 602 226 895.

Silvia Marín Palacios


Lawyer and Partner Lawyou.

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