If the BBC wanted to create a new baking show featuring former Great British Bake Off presenters Mel and Sue, there is “little doubt it could do so” according to an expert in TV format rights.
Love Productions may own the rights to The Great British Bake Off, but lawyer and intellectual property expert Piers Strickland suggests that if the BBC wanted to create another baking show after losing the series to Channel 4, there would be little legally to get in their way.
“Would Love Productions be able to stop the BBC using the name ‘Mel and Sue’s Bake Off? It is doubtful,” wrote Strickland in a column for RadioTimes.com.
He explained that while there are a number of legal rights preventing an exact ‘rip-off’ of the Bake Off format, there is certainly scope for the BBC to create a new show – although it could expect a swift response from creators Love Productions.
“If the BBC was committed to producing its own new and sufficiently different bake off show, there is little doubt it could do so,” argued Strickland. “Love Productions do not hold monopoly rights over the overall concept of a televised bakery competition. Given the uncertain state of the law, the problem for the BBC is that any new bake off show might still come under attack from Love Productions, even if it is different.”
Love Productions has already reportedly threatened court proceedings against the BBC over BBC3 series Hair (designed to find Britain’s best amateur hair stylist) and BBC1’s The Big Painting Challenge (seeking the UK’s best amateur artists).
The Telegraph reported that the production company accused the BBC of “ripping off” the Bake Off format, with the the BBC reportedly agreeing a financial settlement to prevent the case going to court.
However, Strickland suggests that the BBC should not have been so quick to settle.
“If true, Love Productions’ reported attempts to claim an umbrella of format rights found on The Great British Bake Off covering talent competitions in different fields is likely to be extremely legally dubious to say the least,” he wrote. “The fact that a show like Hair is likely to be very different from The Great British Bake Off (location, scenarios etc) means that Love Productions’ legal position would be all the weaker.”
However, he added that the possible threat of action, however “legally dubious”, is likely to prevent the BBC from following through with a Mel and Sue spin-off.
“Whether out of an abundance of legal caution or for non-legal commercial reasons, it seems the industry practice is to steer well away from any existing formats and instead to focus energy on inventing new formats,” he said.
Read the full interview about The Great British Bake Off using the link below.