ABC recently announced that it will be airing nine episodes of a series called Million Dollar Idea, which was conceived by Cowell and British colleague Peter Jones. The show will pit inventors and entrepreneurs against each other in order to find America's most brilliant new idea. The winner, selected by judge and viewer votes, will receive a $1 million prize along with support and resources to bring his or her idea to fruition.
Unfortunately, it seems that Cowell and Jones' Million Dollar Idea is not particularly original itself. In 2003, Golden and Walker began airing their own invention-competition show--also called Million Dollar Idea--on a local Minneapolis TV station. Contestants pitch ideas to a live audience and panel of judges at the Mall of America, and winners get the help they need to develop their inventions.
Golden and Walker claim that they pitched their show--which has been syndicated to stations around the US--to ABC in 2004, but were turned down.
Pierce O'Donnell, an attorney for the plaintiffs, says that "each and every detail of Simon Cowell and ABC's mock Million Dollar Idea is a patent ripoff of Todd and Jean's four-year labor of love. Cowell and ABC conspired to destroy the very essence that the show Million Dollar Idea is here to promote--the ability of the little guy with a big dream to take an idea and bring it to fruition."
The federal lawsuit filed by Golden and Walker demands an injunction against the Cowell show, along with unspecified damages. ABC has yet to release a statement regarding the case.