Judge unsticks 'Bruno' Velcro lawsuit

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Judge unsticks 'Bruno' Velcro lawsuit

Mon Aug 09, 2010 @ 06:06PM PST

By Matthew Belloni

Bruno Sacha Baron Cohen has escaped yet another lawsuit. A federal judge today dismissed a copyright claim brought by a writer who claimed that a scene in last year's "Bruno" was too similar to one in his original script called "Himbos." Here's the full decision.

John Musero filed suit in March against Baron Cohen, director Larry Charles, producers Mosaic Media Group and MRC and others claiming that a scene involving the "mayhem" that ensues when Bruno dons a Velcro suit in the 2009 fashion farce was ripped from Musero's script, which had been pitched to Mosiac manager John Elliot and later rejected by the company.

It's a pretty standard copyright analysis. The court rules that the general idea of a man in a Velcro suit isn't subject to copyright and that the two works aren't really that similar anyway. 

"In the 'Bruno' scene, the lead character gets stuck to a curtain, crashes into a rack of clothes, gets stuck to the clothes, and tumbles out onto a runway," the seven-page decision says. "In contrast, the 'Himbos' protagonist gets crumbled rabbit food stuck to the back of his suit that attracts a rabbit, followed by a cat, and then multiple cats that are trying to get to the rabbit. The protagonist gets stuck to a canopy in the course of fighting off the cats, gets stuck to a waiter, and then falls into a pool."

Case dismissed, although Musero can take solace that his Velcro-suit scene sounds a lot funnier than anything in "Borat."

Baron Cohen, Mosaic and the other defendants were repped by Lincoln Bandlow of L.A.'s Lathrop & Gage, with Russell Smith and Michael Cleaver of SmithDehn. Musero was repped by Stephen Doniger and Scott Burroughs of L.A.'s Doniger & Burroughs. 

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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