Star Trek: Discovery Wins Tardigrade Lawsuit


Star Trek: Discovery, CBS, and Netflix Win Copyright Lawsuit Against Anas Abdin’s Video Game

If you remember way back in 2018, I did a little investigative reporting into the alleged plagiarism conducted by CBS and Netflix and the copyright lawsuit that was filed by Tardigrades creator Anas Abdin. Abdin claimed that Star Trek: Discovery plagiarized the main details from his video game and used them in season one; most notably, the notion of giant tardigrades utilizing space travel and allowing characters to warp through time. 

A tardigrade: scientific reality, and therefore uncopyrightable.

At that time, I was skeptical of CBS and Netflix. We know how big companies act with smaller creators; they steal ideas or content and pass it off as their own, or refuse to give credit where it’s due. For this reason, I concluded that it was entirely possible that CBS could have ripped off Abdin’s video game. Now, with the ruling on the copyright lawsuit finally out, I am ready to address the subject once again. 

Tardigrades Vs. Star Trek

In his lawsuit, Anas Abdin claimed that Star Trek: Discovery “infringed upon the plot of his unreleased game”. The game features a botanist named Carter who discovers the connection between the tardigrades and “instantaneous space travel.”

In Star Trek: Discovery, the tardigrades are also capable of instantaneous space travel. The crew discovers that the tardigrade has a “symbiotic relationship with the mycelial network in the Discovery’s spore drive”. This spore drive is what allows the ship to teleport. 

The Ruling

The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that “Abdin’s space-traveling tardigrade is an unprotectable idea because it is a generalized expression of a scientific fact—namely, the known ability of a tardigrade to survive in space”. The ruling continued, stating, “By permitting Abdin to exclusively own the idea of a space-traveling tardigrade, this Court would improperly withdraw that idea from the public domain and stifle creativity naturally flowing from the scientific fact that tardigrades can survive the vacuum of space”.

According to CBR, “the idea was not novel enough to be copyrightable”.

What Is a Tardigrade?

In real life science, a tardigrade is a microscopic creature; they are capable of surviving extreme heat, cold, radiation, and the vacuum of space. A group of tardigrades was sent to space by Swedish and German scientists in 2007. The project, nicknamed TARDIS (Tardigrades In Space), aimed to determine how the tardigrades would fare in space. They lived for twelve days there and survived. 

Get your nerd on!

About the author

Lauren Boisvert

Lauren Boisvert is a writer and Pisces from Florida. She has had poems published with Memoir Mixtapes, spy kids review, The Mochila Review, and others. She loves Mystery Science Theater 3000, classic horror, and making everyone in the car listen to the Beastie Boys.

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