There are few things in this world that would scare me more than the Walt Disney Company coming after me with its gang of lawyers. That very team of lawyers marched into a federal appeals court today in Pasadena, Califronia, in an attempt to get a $319 million judgment over profits from ABC's hit Who Wants to Be a Millionaire overturned.
ABC and Buena Vista Television lawyers joined lawyers for Millionaire producer Celador International for an hour and ten minute oral argument in front of a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Disney believes that the 2010 jury verdict, which was one of the largest in Hollywood history, was due to an improper reading of a 1999 contract with U.K.-based Celador that gave ABC and Buena Vista the North American rights to the program.
Eighty percent of the time was spent on the complex terms of the Millionaire contract. Disney's legal team argued that Celador was improperly awarded a share of revenue generated by the ABC Network when Celador was entitled only to a 50 percent share of Buena Vista Television's revenue. The Disney team wants a new trial.
Celador, shockingly, believes that the jury correctly understood the contract and made the right decision.