Simon Cowell, ABC Television Network, Freemantlemedia, North America Sued in Federal Court For Stealing �Million Dollar Idea�� Brand
Federal Lawsuit Charges Defendants with Stealing Trademarked Brand,
Copying Entire Premise for New Show, Marketing As Their Own
LOS ANGELES, CA, August 10, 2005 � A lawsuit filed in Federal Court here today
states that Simon Cowell, and ABC Television Network (NYSE: DIS), conspired to steal
the trademarked brand �Million Dollar Idea�, copy the entire premise of a show already
airing in national syndication on over 125 television stations, and market that idea as their
The federal case is being brought by original �Million Dollar Idea� creators/hosts Jean
Golden and Todd Walker. It is a direct response to ABC�s July 13, 2005 announcement
of a new show of the same name, �created� by Cowell and �packaged� by CAA.
�From stem to stern, each and every detail of Simon Cowell and ABC�s mock �Million
Dollar Idea� is a patent rip-off of Todd and Jean�s four-year labor of love,� said attorney
Pierce O'Donnell. �Cowell, and ABC, conspired to destroy the very essence that the show
�Million Dollar Idea� is here to promote � the ability of the little guy with a big dream to
take an idea and bring it to fruition.� O�Donnell added that the damages from the lawsuit
are estimated to be well into the tens of millions of dollars, in an exact amount to be
determined at trial.
In 2001, Golden and Walker � childhood friends who eventually became business
partners in their own public relations/marketing firm in Minneapolis, MN � teamed up
and spent the next two years developing what became the �Million Dollar Idea�.� By
2002, they pitched and shot a pilot of �Million Dollar Idea� for KSTC TV (the sister
station to ABC affiliate KSTP) in Minneapolis/St. Paul. By 2003, the show was airing on
KSTC, in the nation�s 14th largest market (Minneapolis, MN).
Three seasons and over 30 episodes later, the show was recently nationally syndicated to
over 125 television stations. In the process, it has drawn the attention of national media
including The New York Times, Time Magazine, NBC�s The Today Show, Late Show with
David Letterman, and Entrepreneur Magazine. Golden and Walker registered for both
copyright and trademark for the name and premise of �Million Dollar Idea�.
In early 2004, Walker pitched Andrea Wong, executive vice president for Alternative
Programming, Specials and Late Night at ABC Network. Wong was enthused by the idea
and Walker/Golden followed up by sending Wong a pitch package which included
selected media coverage of Million Dollar Idea, taped episodes of the show, a business
plan and treatment for a national show. Also included was a confidentiality agreement.
Golden and Walker also provided copies of their pitch materials to CAA, the same
agency named in a recent ABC press release as having �packaged� the imitation �Million
In mid-July 2005, ABC and Cowell, with the help of CAA, announced a new show, titled
�Million Dollar Idea,� that is an exact replica of the already-airing and
trademarked/copyrighted show of the same name. The ABC release quotes both Cowell
and Wong, who makes decisions for the network on reality show content.
�At what point does our society say �enough is enough� to the big corporate giants who
take advantage of the little guy? Business 101 classes teach that before you create or
launch a new product or business, you must research the name and premise of the
business to be sure that you are not infringing on trademark, patent or copyright of
another individual,� stated attorney Ann Marie Mortimer.
In addition to the direct theft of the show title, each and every major concept relating to
the show idea was also stolen.
The lawsuit calls for immediate injunctive relief and unspecified damages.
�It is incredibly ironic that our show, the premise of which is to promote, protect and
reward small-town American ingenuity, was itself the victim of corporate theft and
greed,� said Jean Golden, co-creator of Million Dollar Idea. �What has happened to us is
every inventor/entrepreneur�s worst nightmare: having your idea stolen. The arrogance
of Simon Cowell and ABC is beyond comprehension. Can you imagine stealing an idea
and not even bothering to change the name of it?�
�We are outraged that Simon Cowell, and ABC Network think that they are above the
law,� said Todd Walker. �We were taken aback to see our brand so brazenly stolen by
Golden and Walker are represented by Pierce O'Donnell and Ann Marie Mortimer of
O'Donnell Shaeffer Mortimer, LLP, in Los Angeles.
For more information about Million Dollar Idea, visit www.milliondollaridea.tv.