RDF Media, which produces Britain's Wife Swap reality series, has sued Fox and producer Rocket Science Laboratories, saying that their Trading Spouses series infringes on its copyright.
The suit, filed Wednesday in Los Angeles, charges that Fox and Rocket Science "willfully and illegally develop[ed] a show, Trading Spouses, that incorporated all of the expressive elements and trade dress of Wife Swap, versions of which have aired on British television since January 2003 and in the U.S. on the ABC-TV network since September 2004.
ABC bought the rights to the show and began airing its own version in fall 2004.
The suit alleges that News Corp. President told Fox executives in 2003 that he had seen the British wife swap and "it was the show everyone was talking about."
“It has been widely reported that Fox has long pursued a strategy of ripping off other people’s intellectual property," said RDF Program Director Stephen Lambert, " RDF intends to take full advantage of the law to put a stop to it.”
A Fox spokesman declined comment, saying he had not seen the suit.