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US Court Goes Where 'No Court Has Gone Before' for 'Star Trek'

Star Trek Lower Decks/@startrekcbs/Twitter

Star Trek Lower Decks/@startrekcbs/Twitter

Judge Denny Chin used legal literary licence in writing a decision ruling that an offshoot of Star Trek franchise did not infringe copyrights.

An appeals court went a little out of this world on Monday in ruling that an offshoot of the Star Trek franchise did not infringe the copyrights of a developers video game concept.

Judge Denny Chin of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals used some legal literary license in writing a decision in favor of CBS Broadcasting Inc. as he noted that a copyright lawsuit filed in 2018 was one among many since Star Trek” premiered in September 1966.

Today, in the latest round of Star Trek-related litigation, we are asked to boldly go where no court has gone before,” Chin wrote for a panel of three appeals judges who decided the case consistent with the findings of a lower-court judge.

He said the panel decided that Abdin failed to show there was substantial similarity between his video game concept and the television series: Star Trek: Discovery.


Abdin maintained that a concept he introduced online in 2014 on several online forums and websites later was utilized after CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Netflix Inc. premiered the latest Star Trek incarnation in September 2017.

Abdin’s videogame and the television series both featured tardigrades, which are microscopic organisms so hardy that they can survive in space, the 2nd Circuit said.

The appeals court noted that information about tardigrades was available publicly. It cited a Smithsonian Magazine report that tardigrades commonly seen on moss or the bottom of lakes have also been found surviving in boiling hot springs and buried under ice on Himalayan mountaintops.

The tardigrades ability to survive in space has been reported and discussed in numerous scientific studies and thus has entered the public domain as a scientific fact,” the appeals court said, noting that they’ve also been featured in works of fiction. Facts and ideas are not protected by copyright.”