Fox Claims Netflix Poached Top Executives

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Reflecting the shifting landscape of the television industry, Fox claims in an unfair competition lawsuit that Netflix boldly poached two executives who were under contract at the studio.
     Twentieth Century Fox Film and its subsidiary Fox 21 Television Studios sued Netflix in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday, claiming the streaming giant embarked on a “brazen campaign to unlawfully target, recruit, and poach valuable Fox executives by illegally inducing them to break employment contracts with Fox.”
     Fox says that Netflix lured two employees on fix-term employment contracts from Fox. Marcos Waltenberg signed a 2014 contract to serve as Fox’s vice president of promotions, while Tara Flynn signed an agreement in late 2013 to serve as a creative executive, the studio says.
     Netflix approached Waltenberg in 2015 and persuaded him to break his contract, according to Fox, and induced Flynn to walk away from hers earlier this summer.
     In both instances, Fox provided notice to Netflix that the executives were under contract. On both occasions, Netflix refused to stop courting the executives and interfered with their contracts, the studio’s lawsuit says.
     Flynn left Fox 21 Television Studios to oversee Netflix’s expanding slate of drama series, Deadline Hollywood reported earlier this month.
     Fox is represented by O’Melveny & Myers attorney Daniel Petrocelli. During a brief phone interview, Petrocelli said he could not comment.
     In a statement, Fox said: “We filed this lawsuit because we believe Netflix is defiantly flouting the law by soliciting and inducing employees to break their contracts. We intend to seek all available remedies to enforce our rights and hold Netflix accountable for its wrongful behavior.”
     Netflix meanwhile said that it would “vigorously” defend against the lawsuit.
     “We do not believe Fox’s use of fixed-term employment contracts in this manner [is] enforceable. We believe in employee mobility and will fight for the right to hire great colleagues no matter where they work,” the company said in an emailed statement.
     Founded by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph in Scotts Valley, Calif., Netflix started as a DVD-by-mail service before its sharp ascension as an international entertainment company that is competing with traditional Hollywood film and television studios.
     In early 2013, the subscriber-based streaming service served notice of its intent with the release of adapted television drama “House of Cards,” satisfying the appetites of binge-watching viewers by allowing subscribers to stream the whole series at once. “Orange is the New Black,” “Daredevil” and “Bloodline” followed, appearing alongside original movies, documentaries and a menu of licensed movies and shows.
     Alleging breach of contract and unfair competition, Fox seeks a permanent injunction that prevents Netflix from poaching Fox employees as well as compensatory, punitive and statutory damages.

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