Stephen M. Silverman
September 13, 2004 08:00 AM

Call it the clash of the Simons: Simon Fuller, creator of British talent show Pop Idol and its stateside spinoff American Idol, is suing his former collaborators, including the sharp-tongued Simon Cowell, claiming their new project is a rip-off of the global Idol format, says the Hollywood Reporter.

Fuller’s production company, 19 TV, said in a statement that it has filed suit against the makers of The X Factor, Cowell and Fremantle Media, for copyright infringement and breach of contract.

The X Factor, which premiered on Britain’s ITV on Sept. 4, features a panel of judges – including the outspoken pair of Cowell and Sharon Osbourne – as they pick aspiring stars from hundreds of hopefuls. As the show progresses, the judges actually compete against one another as they groom their candidates for victory.

Although The X Factor has been announced for months, 19 TV did not sue until the new program had been broadcast.

In a statement issued Friday by Fremantle Media on behalf of itself and Cowell, the company said it will fight any legal action “vigorously” should the dispute not be resolved amicably. It added that the it considers the two shows to be quite different.

When Pop Idol first premiered, it too was called a copycat program – and faced legal action from an earlier show called Popstars, which also broadcast in Britain.

Under a legal settlement, the producers of Pop Idol agreed not to use that name internationally, instead launching the show under regional titles like American Idol.

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