Ideas are valuable, especially in Hollywood, and those who rely on their ideas for income need protection. Because ideas are not protected by federal copyright law, the solution in California has been to protect idea disclosure with implied-in-fact contracts. A common defense to a claim of idea theft is the independent-creation defense. This defense permits an idea recipient to escape liability by showing that he did not use a plaintiff’s idea but instead used an idea from an independent third party. The problem with this defense, however, is that it fails to recognize the possibility that an idea recipient could actually be using the idea from both the idea purveyor and the independent third party simultaneously. As a result, defendants can wrongfully evade one valid implied-in-fact contractual obligation by demonstrating that they simply have a second contract. This Note proposes a change to the analysis that courts currently apply in implied-in-fact contract claims, which will remedy this practice and ensure better protection of idea purveyors’ rights.
Jonathan R. Sandler,
Idea Theft and Independent Creation: A Recipe for Evading Contractual Obligations,
45 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 1421
Available at: http://digitalcommons.lmu.edu/llr/vol45/iss4/9