Judge allows suit claiming Conan O’Brien and his team stole comedy writer’s jokes

Copyright Law

Conan O'Brien

Conan O’Brien (Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock)


A federal judge in San Diego has refused to dismiss a copyright infringement suit filed by a comedy writer who claims talk-show host Conan O’Brien and his writing team stole his jokes.

U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino allowed freelance comedy writer Robert “Alex” Kaseberg to pursue claims over three of his jokes, but not for two others, report the Hollywood Reporter, USA Today, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Kaseberg claimed that soon after he posted the jokes on his website, they were aired on Conan O’Brien’s show. Sammartino found there were enough similarities between the three jokes to create a triable issue of fact.

Sammartino said the factual setup for the jokes is not entitled to copyright protection, but the punchline may be protected. The Washington Post has both versions of the three jokes, including this one:

Kaseberg: “Tom Brady said he wants to give his MVP truck to the man who won the game for the Patriots. So enjoy that truck, Pete Carroll.”

O’Brien: “Tom Brady said he wants to give the truck that he was given as Super Bowl MVP … to the guy who won the Super Bowl for the Patriots. Which is very nice. I think that’s nice. I do. Yes. So Brady’s giving his truck to Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.”

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