CBS Beats Copyright Claims Over Star Trek: Discovery ‘Tardigrade’ Episodes

Written August 24, 2020

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on August 17, 2020, held that a story arc about a giant tardigrade, an eight-legged segmented micro-animal, in the television show “Star Trek: Discovery” didn’t infringe a copyright in an unreleased video game that also featured a giant tardigrade. Abdin v. CBS Broad. Inc., 2d Cir., No. 19-3160, 8/17/20.

Anas Osama Ibrahim Abdin owns a copyright in the “distillation” of the concept for his video game “Tardigrades,” which features a space-station botanist who travels through space after being absorbed into a giant tardigrade.

Three episodes in the first season of CBS’ "Star Trek: Discovery” also involve a space encounter with a massive tardigrade-like creature, and Abdin sued CBS for copyright infringement.

The Second Circuit affirmed that CBS and Netflix—which is licensed to air “Discovery” outside of the U.S.—didn’t infringe because the works aren’t substantially similar. Abdin’s use of tardigrades largely wasn’t copyrightable, the court said.

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