Montz v. Pilgrim Films & Television, Inc. – Correction

By Pamela Jones, Attorney

There were numerous errors in my prior posting concerning the “Ghost Hunters” case and summary of the 9th Circuit’s ruling earlier this month.  The Court’s decision focused solely on the legal issue of whether federal copyright law pre-empts a state law ‘implied in fact’ contract claim.  The Appellate Court held that the state law contract claim was not pre-empted and remanded the case to the lower court for further proceedings. 

Contrary to what I reported, to date there have been no findings of fact, no decision whether an agreement of any kind existed between the parties and no decision with respect to liability.  In short, Montz has not won his case.  It was incorrect to state that Montz has received a judgment in his favor in connection with his allegation that an idea pitched by him was used as the basis of SyFy’s long-running hit series “Ghost Hunters” or that NBC Universal and the NBC Universal Television Group was found guilty of breaching an ‘implied contract’.  

Montz has not established the details of the concept he allegedly pitched; proven that his alleged concept bears any similarity to the “Ghost Hunters” series; or established that NBC Universal et al. used his idea without compensation.  Furthermore, Montz has yet to prove that any of those to whom he allegedly pitched his concept were affiliated with NBC Universal or the NBC Universal Television Group.  It will be his burden to prove these facts as well as to establish that the defendants consented to the terms of what Montz claims was an implied-in-fact agreement.  Since there has been no determination as to the facts, or with respect to liability, it was inaccurate to suggest any wrongdoing on the part of NBC Universal, the NBC Universal Television Group or Pilgrim Films & Television, or to state that any of them was found guilty with respect to any of these allegations.

NBC Universal and Pilgrim Films & Television will strenuously oppose Montz’s attempt to prove these allegations when the case is heard on remand.