Having offered his cartoon concept ‘Trusty and friends’ to ITV as the basis for a cartoon series, Mr Miles thought ITV’s later series ‘Dream Street’ starring a yellow recovery truck was just too close to be coincidental.
Who: Mr Miles and ITV Networks Limited
Where: Chancery Division at the High Court, London
When: December 2003
The claimant Miles started proceedings against ITV Networks for breach of confidential information and breach of copyright. The action was brought in respect of the programme "Dream Street." For the uninitiated, Dream Street is a cartoon featuring anthropomorphic traffic equipment and a main character which is a yellow recovery truck. Dream Street went on to become a commercial success and the claimant Miles argued that it was all based on his idea.
Miles alleged that in January 1998 he supplied ITV Network with a package of material relating to his cartoon "Trusty and Friends". The main character Trusty was a set of traffic lights and his friends were various pieces of traffic equipment such as bollards and traffic cones.
In the action, Miles argued that the similarities between the material in this package and the characters in the ITV Networks programme, as well as the concept of using traffic equipment, were so close as to give rise an infringement of copying.
ITV Networks and its co-defendant, the creator of "Dream Street," defended the claim strenuously. Dream Street's creator produced documentary evidence showing that in December 1997, a month before Miles sent his package to ITV Network, he had sent to himself by registered mail an envelope containing the original material outlining the concept for Dream Street. On that basis, the defendants argued that there could not have been any copying and they applied to have Miles' claim struck out.
At first instance, before a High Court Master, and on appeal before Chancery Judge Laddie, the Miles claim was indeed struck out.
Why this matters:
There can be no copyright infringement without copying. This means if there is purely coincidental similarity between a claimant's creative output and that of the defendant, and this can be proved by documentary evidence, any breach of copyright claim will have to be rejected. The action of Dream Street's creator in 1997 in posting the material to himself by registered mail proved to be decisive in this case, and it is a step worth considering for all those originating distinctive adver