AEQUO advised Ukraina TV channel on Ukrainian and English law matters, arbitration, and IP in the course of settlement of dispute on possible unlawful use of The Masked Singer format elements in the Maskarad programme.

Ukraina TV channel, Fremantle, and 1+1 media entered into an amicable settlement on the adaptation of television formats The Masked Singer (Maska) and Mysteries in the Spotlight (Maskarad) in Ukraine. In the settlement, the parties reached consent on key issues of adaptation and airing their television products. In particular, the settlement clearly defined the key format elements of each show and the elements that may not overlap in any way.

AEQUO advised Ukraina TV channel on Ukrainian and English law matters, arbitration, and IP. AEQUO’s team included partners Anna Babych and Pavlo Byelousov, counsels Nataliya Dryuk and Olena Pertsova, associates Khrystyna Pogoretska, Alina Podolyak, and Vadym Maistruk.

Natalia Dryuk, AEQUO’s counsel, commented: “It wasn’t for the first time that the Ukrainian media industry faced a dispute on television format. One of the most high-profile court cases in the media industry involved television format of the Inspector Freimut show aired by 1+1 TV channel, in which case the court finally adjudicated in favour of the owner of the Revizor show format several years after its commencement.

In case of The Masked Singer, it was not a local product that was at the core of dispute, but a very popular global television format successfully adapted in many countries. Therefore, the dispute was in the limelight not only of the Ukrainian but also the international market of television formats, including FRAPA.

The amicable settlement of the dispute establishes a precedent that may be a model for developing the practice of solving any conflicts in the market in a civilized way.

Yevhen Butsan, Director of the Legal Department of Ukraina Media Group, of which Ukraina TV channel is a member, says “We welcome the fact that the dispute being a precedent for the media industry has been settled without recourse to legal action and within such short term. Candid dialog, affirmative approach, and understanding of the advantages of amicable settlement of dispute is the aim worth striving for in any conflict, in particular, in such a sensitive area as media”.

Anna Babych, AEQUO’s partner, says “We appreciate very much the cooperation in a joint team with Ukraina TV channel. AEQUO’s attorneys showed their unique expertise once again and we are grateful to our client for the confidence and partnership”.

REFERENCE

As previously reported, the high-profile dispute regarding the format of The Masked Singer show (Maska) arose in autumn 2020 in connection with the Maskarad show aired by 1+1 TV channel in the Mysteries in the Spotlight format of Romanian Antena TV, in which Ukraina TV channel and Fremantle saw unlawful use of key format elements of The Masked Singer.

At the same time, in spring 2020 Ukraina TV channel purchased exclusive rights to airing in Ukraine a show based on the world-known The Masked Singer format owned by leading distributor of television formats Fremantle from UK.

The similarity of the Maskarad programme to the Maska format sparked a lively discussion in the media industry. FRAPA, the international Format Recognition and Protection Association, noted in its opinion that the Maskarad show on 1+1 TV channel bears “striking similarities” to The Masked Singer format. Just after the first episode of the Maskarad show was aired, Ukraina TV channel, with the assistance of Fremantle (UK) and AEQUO’s attorneys, started to defend its rights to The Masked Singer format.