BOSTON (CBS) — Conan O’Brien is reportedly headed to trial for stealing one of his jokes. And one of the joke thefts in question was about Tom Brady.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a federal judge ruled that O’Brien and his show Conan must go to trial for allegedly lifting material for O’Brien’s opening monologue from writer Robert “Alex” Kaseberg.
As part of the allegations against Conan, Kaseberg alleges that the show infringed on his copyright for five jokes, one of which was related to Brady, the Super Bowl XLIX MVP. After it was reported that Brady would be giving away his MVP truck to Malcolm Butler, Kasberg tweeted: “Tom Brady is going to give his MVP truck to the guy who won the game for the Patriots. So enjoy that truck, Pete Carroll.”
That same night, O’Brien delivered this joke during his opening monologue: “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.”
Kaseberg has a stronger case for two other allegedly stolen jokes, related to Mount Rushmore and Caitlyn Jenner. As suspicious as it may appear that Conan would run with almost the same exact Brady joke he had made that day, it may be tough for Kaseberg to prove that Conan stole the joke specifically from him.
That’s mainly because seven people made the same joke on Twitter before Kaseberg did, in some case just as Super Bowl XLIX was ending.
Nonetheless, U.S. District Court Judge Janis Sammartino saw enough similarities in the two pertinent Brady jokes to move forward with the trial.
“Plaintiff’s protectable expression is his implication that a fictionalized Tom Brady would therefore give his truck to the coach of the opposing team, Pete Carroll,” she wrote. “And although the Conan joke takes an active stance … the fundamental expression is the same, i.e., that there was no doubt Brady would be giving his MVP award to the opposing team’s coach.
“As previously stated, while not exactly identical, the jokes are sufficiently objectively virtually identical to create a triable issue of fact regarding whether a jury would find these objective similarities to be virtually identical within the context of the entire joke.”
Although the expression of both O’Brien’s and Kaseberg’s Brady jokes are strikingly similar, they weren’t exactly the first two people to make the joke. But it appears that O’Brien will have to defend himself in court anyway.