Timeless, the forthcoming NBC series that fans have joked is DC's Legends of Tomorrow without superheroes, is being hit by a copyright infringement claim.
Not from DC/Warner, no. Instead, THR reports that Spanish producer Onza Partners claims the NBC series is a ripoff of El Ministerio del Tiempo. The suit describes the series more or less in the same way most news stories might describe Timeless: a small team of government agents travel back in time to change the past and ensure the future.
The suit alleges that 18 months ago, Onza provided Gersh Partners with a copy of the El Ministerio del Tiempo DVD with an eye toward developing it for American TV.
Instead, they claim, Gersh partnered with Sony and writers/executive producers Ben Edlund (The Tick, Gotham) and Eric Kripke (Supernatural) to polish the high concept into a new product that they could cut Onza out of.
Onza is suing NBC, Sony, Kripke and others for copyright infringement and is also suing Sony and Kripke for breach of implied contract.
"[I]t was understood by all concerned that any persons or entities being given access by Ashton or Gersh to the Original Series DVD...would be given such access solely for the purpose of assisting Onza in developing and exploiting Onza's American Version," reads the complaint, filed by attorney Devin McRae. "While precise financial terms relative to any American Version were to be worked out among Onza and the other parties brought into the deal by Gersh, no American Version was to be made without Onza's consent."
If that sounds a bit familiar, it's probably because comic book fans have heard similar claims about Fables, the long-running, creator-owned series from Vertigo which was briefly considered as a television show from ABC before they opted to go another way and develop a simliar but legally-distinct series in the form of Once Upon a Time.
There were allegations that Fox also optioned Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to avoid buying a similar screenplay without the brand recognition of Moore or a best-selling comic, although those allegations have always seemed questionable at best, since it would likely be more expensive to option an existing property than to home-grow a similar one.
Representatives for Timeless did not were not available for comment in the THR story. ComicBook.com has reached out for a follow-up but has so far received no response.