IP Law News

Hedge Fund Coach’s ‘Billions’ Copyright Suit Fails, Networks Say

March 11, 2019, 4:07 PM

The Showtime series “Billions” is nothing like a finance coach’s nonfiction book, not even close, the network and its creators say in seeking dismissal of a copyright infringement suit.

Denise Shull and her consulting firm The ReThink Group Inc. sued CBS Corp., Showtime Networks Inc., and the show’s creators last year. Shull alleged the Billions character Dr. Wendy Rhoades, an in-house performance coach for a hedge fund, was “an unauthorized rip-off” of Shull’s book Market Mind Games: A Radical Psychology of Investing, Trading, and Risk.

But Market Mind Games and Billions are “completely dissimilar,” Showtime said in a March 8 filing to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

“Market Mind Games is primarily an academic work of nonfiction meant as a guide to help traders trade better, while Billions is a richly realized fictional television series that deals with age-old themes of power, sex, and money,” the network said.

There’s no substantial similarity in expression between the book and the show, the motion said. The plots, characters, settings, themes, concepts, and feel of the two are different.

This isn’t a case about the copying of actual sentences or content from a work, the motion said.

Shull attempts to construct a copyright claim based only on a broad unprotectible idea--a female hedge fund performance coach counseling clients about their emotions, the dismissal motion argued.

CKR Law LLP represents Shull and The Rethink Group. Davis Wright Tremaine LLP represents the defendants.

The case is Shull v. Sorkin, S.D.N.Y., No. 18-12400, motion 3/8/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Steinberg in Washington at jsteinberg@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com

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