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Guy Claims He Owns The Idea Of Oprah Visiting Australia, Plans To Sue

from the ownership-society-at-work dept

When you think that ideas are ownable, you get absolutely ridiculous scenarios, such as the idea that anyone could ever "own" the idea of Oprah Winfrey visiting Australia. And yet, a dive boat operator in Australia is planning to sue Tourism Australia, because of Oprah Winfrey's recent visit. You see, back in 2004, this guy by the name of John Heuvel, had the idea that it would be good for Austalia's tourism if Oprah visited the country. That seems like the kind of idea just about anyone could have, of course, however he insists that it was unique to him. He pitched it to Tourism Australia, who agreed to work with him to get Oprah to visit. They pitched Oprah in 2005, and she (or, rather, her company) turned them down. Fast forward to 2009. Heuvel thought he'd try again, and pitched Oprah's company directly (without the help of Tourism Australia). It appears there was no response.

However, last month, Oprah did finally go visit Australia, and Tourism Australia was (not surprisingly) heavily involved. However, Heuvel claims that since Tourism Australia had promised to work with him, it had now breached a contract. As for the idea that perhaps (just maybe) plenty of others at Tourism Australia might have had the idea of bringing perhaps the most recognizable entertainer in the world to the country to play up tourism in Australia? Why, that's impossible, according to Heuvel:
"Tourism Australia is saying that it thought up the idea, which is ludicrous."
Ludicrous? Really? Tourism Australia admits that it worked with Heuvel in 2005, and that that bid to lure Oprah down under failed. End of story. This latest trip was entirely unrelated. However, it appears that Heuvel really thinks that the idea itself is his and his alone, and that Tourism Australia owes him "millions" for actually having Oprah visit the country, without paying him first.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 12th, 2011 @ 10:31am

    Hold on there

    "However, Heuvel claims that since Tourism Australia had promised to work with him, it had now breached a contract."

    I'd love to look at that "promise."

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2011 @ 10:33am

    Australia also has a patent on the wheel. These people are so innovative.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2011 @ 10:34am

    Re:

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2011 @ 10:45am

    I'm sure Oprah's visit cost Tourism Australia a good amount of money so they should bill this guy for his fair share of the cost.

     

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  5.  
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    scarr (profile), Jan 12th, 2011 @ 10:47am

    Re: Hold on there

    That's the key question here. If there was a contract, which he can demonstrate, then there's a case. If not, then the "my idea" nonsense kicks in.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2011 @ 10:49am

    Don't dimiss his claims so quickly. Imagine if these were the facts:
    TA is looking for ideas to promote Australia. This guy comes in a and promotes a complete package to not only bring Oprah to Australia, but woks with them on promotional materials and ideas, itineraries of stops that should be made, activities that she should be seen doing, how to get funding and revenue, etc etc. TA agrees to work with him and makes various "promises" talk consulting fees, etc etc, for actual work that he has done and will do. The project falls apart. He has done work in anticipation.
    A few years later, they revive this idea again, use his work, and convinces Oprah to come over.
    Even if not all of his work is used, yeah, there is some ownership and contract obligations.
    As to what those may be, that can be figured out.
    I highly doubt he walked in to TA one day and just said "lets get Oprah to Australia" and then left.

     

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  7.  
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    Oprah, Jan 12th, 2011 @ 10:52am

    And you're getting a lawsuit! And you're getting a lawsuit!

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2011 @ 10:54am

    Re:

    I think you got it right.

    This isn't about the "idea", as much as the entire concept and plan to do it. Obviously, he didn't just come up with the plan and pin it on his fridge and do nothing, he approached and worked with the correct organizations. In fact, it would seem to be a full enough idea that it was worth pitching, once with the Tourism group and once without. It is clear that this guy actually put some effort into the deal.

    To have the same Tourism group turn around and organize it without him seems, well, a little odd. At bare minimum, they could have invited him back in to be part of the process or to work on some part of it.

    Seems that they may have dropped the ball, and he may in fact be right to be upset about it. Legally, it might depend on what agreements were made.

     

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  9.  
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    I-Blz, Jan 12th, 2011 @ 11:07am

    Re:

    EVERYBODY GETS A LAWSUUUUUUUUIT!!!!!!!

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2011 @ 11:14am

    Battle plan

    1- Have ridiculous idea
    2- Tell idea to suckers
    3- Sue suckers once they implement idea
    4- Ka-ching! Profit!


    (kind of how patents work, if you think about it)

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2011 @ 11:41am

    Amazing.

    The sad thing is that this guy may actually be someone's father.

     

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  12.  
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    Paul Hobbs (profile), Jan 12th, 2011 @ 11:50am

    Re: Amazing.

    Or even someone's son!

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2011 @ 11:56am

    This guy's right. And there are a ton of great ideas out there....!

    We need to really protect these types of innovative ideas.

    Yesterday I thought about an iPad rental service that satisfies a need of reading material while on the can. You'd rent an iPad for $5 per sitting, and have access to all the world's newspapers for "up to 1/2 hour". All this would be setup so people could have something to read while one the can.

    You know, the more I think about the "Trip To Australia" dude, I think his idea is superior to mine. It's is a real great idea, fantastic business model and if this dude can obtain IP on it, I should obtain a copyright or patent on buying newspapers while on the can.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2011 @ 11:58am

    Tons of great ideas out there, if you know where to look

    We need to really protect these types of innovative ideas.

    Yesterday I thought about an iPad rental service that satisfies a need of reading material while on the can. You'd rent an iPad for $5 per sitting, and have access to all the world's newspapers for "up to 1/2 hour". All this would be setup so people could have something to read while on the can.

    You know, the more I think about the "Trip To Australia" dude, I think his idea is superior to mine. It's is a real great idea, fantastic business model and if this dude can obtain IP on it, I should obtain a copyright or patent on buying newspapers while on the can.

     

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  15.  
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    Overcast (profile), Jan 12th, 2011 @ 12:07pm

    This is beyond stupid. This guy needs a real job.

     

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  16.  
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    DCL, Jan 12th, 2011 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re:

    Or it could be that the plan fails and was dropped in 2005 and the TA archived the docs in a desk and forgot they were there...
    A few years go by and people leave the TA and new people come in... during a brainstorming session somebody comes up with a list of celeb names to invite, somebody vaguely remembers the idea from long ago...
    Then some TA people who are in the business of coordinating such things come up with an plan and pitch it to the big O and others but she takes the opp since she wants to visit.

    Or maybe she wanted to visit and reached out the TA...

    It is bummer for him that they didn't remember to include him.... or maybe he was a controlling jerk and they didn't want to do business with him. Maybe his pitch included going thru his services (he is a dive boat guy) and his services are crappy and TA dropped the deal in 2005 because of it.

    Any combos of the above scenarios could be true... without documented evidence of an agreement from either party it is difficult for me to say he has a case.

    Lack of details = incomplete story ... and yes I am too lazy to spell or grammar check or even read the article....

    dang i just read the linked article and all I just typed is kinda moot for this comment... but there still isn't enough evidence that convinces me that he has a legal leg to stand on... but in the article he does sound like a self centered jerk. Now if she did a show on the Great Barrier Reef...

    Maybe OW should sue him for defaming her name as he is inferring that she is just a thing to make money off of... that lawsuit has about as much chance of winning as his if he doesn't have some written proof of a commitment.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2011 @ 1:32pm

    Details Matter

    Headlines like this get attention, but the article failed to apprise us of the details that really matter. Did TA and JH have an agreement regarding the project to bring OW to Australia and were the subsequent events planned by TA materially the same as the plan JH pitched in 2005. Also, consider that in Australia, the loser of a lawsuit pays the costs for both parties. Which makes frivolous lawsuits much more risky than they are in the US. We should learn from previous experience. Remember the McDonald's case years ago, when a McD settled a suit by a women who was burned by spilling McD's coffee on her lap. Everyone joked about getting someone else to pay for our own stupidity. But when you actually look at the facts of the case, the claimant had a pretty good case. McD's had been notified several times that their coffee was dangerously hot; admitted they intentionally kept it hotter than is drinkable; and provided no warnings. Spill fresh coffee at home and you are likely to get moderate to severe 1st degree burns, about the same as a very bad sunburn. What the McD's claimant got were second degree burns with blisters and damage that required reconstructive surgery. Not so frivolous when you know the facts.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2011 @ 1:56pm

    Now that I actually read the article and saw that I was on the right track (Post#6), another thought hit me.
    The Motivational Seminar's owner's need to sue this guy. Since he got the idea from them of setting an ambitious goal, he should now be required to pay a mandatory royalty on every new ambitious idea he comes up with and accomplishes.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 12th, 2011 @ 7:58pm

    Re: Tons of great ideas out there, if you know where to look

    That's great idea you have there. Except i don't think i want to touch things more than necessary needed that someone else just brought out of the can.

     

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  20.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jan 13th, 2011 @ 2:21am

    Re: Re:

    "It is clear that this guy actually put some effort into the deal."

    ...and his efforts failed. End of story.

    If he had a unique concept or an non-obvious idea then he might have rightly been required to be included. If, for example, he had invited H.R. Giger to redesign a significant landmark and then the agency had repeated that idea, then he might have had a leg to stand on. But, inviting one of the most famous people on the planet as a bid to increase tourism? Hardly a unique idea.

    "To have the same Tourism group turn around and organize it without him seems, well, a little odd."

    Not really. They probably already had similar ideas and had probably tried similar deals with other foreign celebrities. It's not odd that they'd try again after an initial failure, and since the concept wasn't new or unique, they wouldn't need this guy to go ahead.

    It's a money grab from a guy who thinks he's entitled to a windfall, end of story.

     

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  21.  
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    Michael, Jan 13th, 2011 @ 3:58am

    Re: Re: Tons of great ideas out there, if you know where to look

    iWipe

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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