LOS ANGELES (CN) – A reality TV production company sued a former employee for $1 million, claiming he swiped film clips “to pass off as his own work” after he left to work for a competitor.
Feeding Time Productions claims producer-director Phillip Lott “fraudulently attempted” to pass off its DVDs, promotional reels, stills, unaired shows and footage as his own work, to promote himself and his loan-out company, Two Three Five, and to seek work for “his new employer, a direct competitor of FTP.”
In its Superior Court complaint, Feeding Time says: “When Lott joined FTP in late 2008, he expressly acknowledged the importance of protecting the company’s confidential information and agreed, among other things, that he would not take or use FTP’s creative materials and footage without company permission, and that he would not disclose or use FTP’s private information, including information about it’s employees and other personnel, for his own use. These provisions of his contract were considered so paramount and important to the success of the company that Lott agreed to pay $1 million in liquidated damages for any breach of his confidentiality obligations.
“However, when Lott left FTP in June 2011 to join a competitor, he apparently was more concerned about failing in his new job than honoring his ongoing commitments to his former employer. Without FTP’s knowledge or approval, Lott surreptitiously took with him dozens of DVDs (including promotional reels, stills, unaired programs and other nonpublic footage) belonging to FTP and, in at least one instance, was caught using that footage in a promotional reel used to sell the services of his new employer to one of FTP’s clients. Remarkably, Lott did not even work on the footage he was trying to pass off as his own work.”
Feeding Time says it makes reality and “fact-based” programming for clients such as ESPN, Discovery, SYFY, Spike, A&E, Animal Planet, Travel, Versus and HDNET.
In an interview with Courthouse News, Feeding Time’s attorney Michael Weinsten, with Lavely & Singer, said: “In this unfortunate incident, it appears that the defendant felt he needed to violate my client’s rights and his contractual obligations in order to succeed in his new job. That’s a risk he took, and he will now be held accountable to the fullest extent the law permits.”
According to the complaint: “Compounding this dishonest behavior, FTP has learned through the entertainment ‘grapevine’ that Lott has been falsely claiming credit for other FTP work he had nothing to do with, including the false claim he created the format for one of FTP’s hit shows. Indeed, Lott himself has admitted, albeit only after he got caught, that he wrongfully published on the Internet that he was an executive producer on FTP’s ‘Killer Sharks: Black December,’ although he in fact did not earn or receive such credit.”
Feeding Time says Lott made a promo reel for his new employer which included shots from its project “Reefmakers,” a show Lott “did not even work on,” and also used parts of a special FTP produced for the Discovery channel. It adds that he has “attempted to replicate the distinct look feel, sound, format and style” of Feeding Time’s work when pitching new clients.
“Lott’s theft and misuse of FTP property, his repeated misrepresentations and false claims of credit for FTP’s work, and his use of FTP’s confidential information to solicit FTP employees (who he agreed not to poach) have forced FTP to take corrective action,” the complaint states.
Feeding Time says the “total extent” of Lott’s “unlawful activities is at this time unclear” because he destroyed all the files on his company computer when he left the company.
“What is clear is that Lott cannot be trusted and has every intention of continuing his illegal practice unless restrained by the court,” the complaint states.
Feeding Time seeks an injunction and punitive damages for breach of contract, conversion, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, misappropriation of trade secrets and unfair competition.