Fox sued by man claiming credit for 'American Idol' concept
By Andrea Sellers, 05/16/2003
Harry Keane, ovner of an entertainment company specializing in televised talent competitions, has filed a lawsuit against Fox, claiming misappropriation of his work and trademark and copyright infringement. Also named in the suit are Simon Fuller, American Idol creator; 19TV and Freemantle Media, the production companies for Idol; and judge Simon Cowell.
According to the suit, Keane came up with the idea for American Idol in 1994. His concepts allegedly included national auditions and a 13-week television show with celebrity judges and the viewers voting on 20 contesants. Viewer voting would take place over the Internet or by telephone.
In 1997, Keane applied for a copyright on the concept and stage design, and he began sending proposals to investors and producers. Two recipients of the proposal? Freemantle Media Associates, which is owned by Simon Fuller, and Freemantle subsidiary Thames Television.
Keane seeks a temporary restraining order against the program and its assets and asks that it stop airing immediately. Why is this coming up one week before the planned final between Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard? According to Keane's attorney, he was unaware of the British version, and once the American show began airing, was moving around and needed to get his paperwork together.