As I mentioned in last week’s post about the A&E television show Flip This House, Richard Davis and Trademark Properties have sued A&E. Richard claims that A&E essentially stole his idea for the show and never paid him either for the idea or for the first season in which he participated.
A&E had the case removed from state court to the Federal District Court for South Carolina. Naturally, A&E denies nearly every allegation made by the plaintiffs. The network denies that any agreement similar to the one alleged by Richard and Trademark in the complaint was ever reached. They instead say the following occurred:
The first season of .Flip This House. was produced under an agreement between AETN and Departure Films, an independent production company, and a separate agreement between Departure Films and Davis. Neither agreement provided Davis with any rights in the show, any control of the show or any compensation. Davis initially did not seek or receive any direct compensation for his participation in the show because he viewed .Flip This House. as a powerful form of advertising for Trademark, which he hoped to expand or franchise on a national basis.
After a successful first season, the parties allegedly came to a new agreement about season two. Per A&E’s court filings:
“Flip This House” did well in the ratings, leading to a mutual desire among the parties to do a second season. At that point, Davis requested an agreement directly with AETN. Negotiations followed, resulting in a firm agreement (the .Season Two Contract.). The Season Two Contract provided, in relevant part, that Davis would participate as on-air talent in a second season of .Flip This House.; that AETN would continue to own and control the show in every sense; and that Davis for the first time would have the opportunity to receive certain compensation.
The network claims that the agreement was reached verbally, A&E began making preparations and starting filming, but that Richard Davis never signed the paperwork.
A counterclaim against Richard and Trademark has been filed by A&E, alleging that Trademark didn’t honor the terms of their agreement for season two of Flip This House. This meant A&E had to find a replacement cast for the show. Specifically, A&E alleges:
The central allegations in Davis.s complaint bear no relationship to reality because AETN and Davis never made any agreement that remotely resembles the terms he alleges. It has always been understood and agreed by all parties, including Davis and Trademark, that AETN exercises final creative authority over .Flip This House,. owns all legal rights in the show, and receives and controls all revenues associated with the show. AETN and Davis reached only one agreement, and Davis broke it. They agreed that Davis would appear in a second season of .Flip This House,. with AETN remaining in its position of creative, economic and legal ownership and control. Davis, however, walked away from this agreement without explanation and publicly announced that he was affiliating himself with a competing network. His conduct amounts to breach of contract or, in the alternative, breach of the duty of good faith.