DLA Piper busts Mythbusters’ author

DLA Piper has scored a victory for BBC television programme Mythbusters, which was dragged to court by an author of children’s books who claimed the show used his reputation as a platform for the show.

The author Andrew Knight claimed that his series of children’s books published in the 1990s, each of which used ‘Mythbusters’ in the title, had acquired a significant reputation with the name Mythbusters, such that people seeing the television programme would believe it was made by, or associated with, him.

Knight also claimed the defendant had exploited the goodwill he had established through his books and various attempts to get a children’s television programme made under that name.

Mr Justice David Richards handing down judgment in the High Court on 24 May said: “Mr Knight’s claim fails because he cannot establish any goodwill as at November 2003 and, in addition, because he cannot establish any actual loss or any real likelihood of loss.”

The Judge found that the very limited reputation and goodwill that Knight had managed to show in 1996 had been exhausted by 2003 when his cause of action arose.

The television programme, which was produced by the defendant Australian Beyond Group, was concerned with the validity of various urban legends in popular culture, such as mobile phones sparking fires in petrol stations.

Siân Croxon, a partner in DLA Piper’s technology, media and commercial group, said: “Our involvement in the case was as a direct result of Shannon Platt, the partner in our group firm DLA Phillips Fox, running the successful parallel proceedings in Australia recommending us to the client in the UK.”

Croxon, DLA Piper’s lead partner on the case, instructed Charlotte May and James Whyte of 8 New Square, while Knight was represented by lead counsel Mark Platts-Mills QC of the same set. Platts-Mills was instructed by Field Fisher Waterhouse.