The dismissal of a claim by a videogame developer that Star Trek: Discovery unlawfully infringed upon a videogame developer’s concept has been upheld by a US appeal court.

In the latest round of copyright and trademark claims involving the television series, Anas Abdin sued CBS and Netflix claiming that Star Trek: Discovery had copied the concept of his videogame which involved a tardigrade, a real life microscopic organism with the unique ability to survive in space.

Abdin submitted a version of his science fiction videogame to several online forums and websites in 2014, eventually calling it Tardigrades.

In 2017, CBS and Netflix premiered their latest installment in the Star Trek series, featuring, in three episodes, a tardigrade named “Ripper” and following the space adventures of its newest Starfleet crew.

Abdin alleged that the creators saw and copied aspects of his game, including the use of a space-travelling tardigrade and other elements, arguing that the defendants committed copyright infringement because the “Tardigrade character” in Discovery was “substantially similar” to the tardigrade in his game.

His claim was dismissed by the lower court which held that his claim failed as a matter of law because his game was not substantially similar to the show.

The appeal court affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the claim on the grounds that Abdin failed to plausibly allege substantial similarity between protectable elements of his game and elements of the TV show.

“Abdin’s space-travelling tardigrade is an un-protectable idea because it is a generalized expression of a scientific fact—namely, the known ability of a tardigrade to survive in space,” the Court held.

“By permitting Abdin to exclusively own the idea of a space-traveling tardigrade, this Court would improperly withdraw that idea from the public domain and stifle creativity naturally flowing from the scientific fact that tardigrades can survive the vacuum of space.”

The Court further emphasised that elements of Abdin’s work were un-copyrightable stock themes from science fiction, including space travel and alien encounters.

The Court focused in part in reaching its decision on the distinction between facts and ideas, which are not copyrightable, and their expression, which may attract protection.

This distinction is one which also applies in English law, and a claim of this kind would likely have a similar outcome here to the one which it had in the US.

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