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Attorney Fees Ordered in Middle of Case

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A federal judge ordered a company that sells its services to aspiring television creators to pay $50,000 in attorney fees in its ongoing case against a disgruntled customer.

New Show Studios, of Pittsburgh, sued former employee Jimm Needle and New Show client Greg Howe in Federal Court in early 2012, claiming, among other things, that Howe had falsely accused New Show president Anthony Valkanas of a double homicide.

Less gravely, Howe had asked Needle to help him "sabotage" the company by stealing its client list and trade secrets, to divert customers to another company called Television Writer's Vault, the company claimed.

In a June 30, 2014 order, U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder dismissed all counts against Howe and Needle except a claim for trade secret misappropriation. The following month, Howe and Needle refiled a motion to strike parts of New Show Studio's amended complaint on free speech grounds.

Snyder granted in part the Anti-SLAPP special motion to strike late last year.

On Friday, the judge awarded Howe and Needle $49,696 in fees and costs.

New Show Studios says on its website that it partners with an "exclusive licensing agent" called SFM Entertainment which has worked with ABC, CBS, Fox, HBO and MTV.

Though the website includes testimonials from satisfied customers, the company does not specify whether it has secured any deals for its clients.

New Show Studios charges $495 for its service, plus a 10 percent commission on any sale, according to the website, and typically charges $8,000 to $12,000 for the reel, which includes a DVD, brochure and packaging.

Howe took umbrage with the company after it asked him to make a reel for his project, New Show alleged in its Feb. 19, 2014 court filing.

He wrote "hostile" emails to the studio, it claims, and posted defamatory comments on the websites, and YouTube, accusing New Show of defrauding clients and running a Ponzi scheme.

New Show also claimed Howe accused Valkanas of committing a double homicide.

In court filings New Show says the claim is false.

"Years ago, Valkanas was present in a ski-resort condominium when a fire broke out in the condominium above him. He awoke the other persons staying in the condominium and exited to safety. Two other persons were caught in the fire and perished," the lawsuit states. "Family members of the deceased sued the building owners, the persons in the condominium above, the builder, Valkanas, and others. Valkanas was never investigated for murder or homicide by anyone, and the negligence lawsuit against him was eventually dismissed."

In February, New Show Studios filed a third amended complaint, alleging false light invasion of privacy, trade secret misappropriation, defamation per se, copyright infringement and trademark infringement.

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