A drama worthy of a Lady Whistledown letter unfolds in the Bridgerton universe. Netflix sued Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear—the Grammy-winning duo who created Bridgerton’s Unofficial Musical—for copyright and trademark infringement, days after the composers held a sold-out live performance of the album at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
The trialas published by Deadline, claims Barlow and Bear used “textual dialogue, character and expressive traits, and other elements” for their own financial gain in their unauthorized musical adaptation of the hit romance series. from Netflix’s Regency era, created by Shonda Rhimesfrom the production company Shondaland and based on novels by Julia Quinn.
“Defendants Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear and their companies (“Barlow & Bear”) took valuable intellectual property from the Netflix original series. Bridgerton to build an international brand for themselves,” the complaint reads. “Bridgerton reflects the creative work and hard-earned success of hundreds of artists and Netflix employees. Netflix has the exclusive right to create Bridgerton songs, musicals or any derivative works based on Bridgerton. Barlow & Bear cannot appropriate this right, made valuable by the hard work of others, without permission. Yet that is exactly what they did.
Bridgerton’s Unofficial Musical was born like a virus ICT Tac in which Barlow sang an original song from the perspective of season one ingenue Daphne Bridgerton called “Ocean Away”. After racking up millions of views, Barlow teamed up with Bear to write a 15-track album inspired by the Netflix series’ first season, featuring original songs called “Lady Whistledown” and “Burn for You.”
The album topped iTunes’ US Pop Chart when released in September 2021, and Barlow and Bear won the Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album earlier this year. At 23 and 20, respectively, Barlow and Bear became the youngest winners in category history and the first to win a Grammy in that category for a project that started on TikTok. On Tuesday, July 26, Barlow and Bear produced Bridgerton’s Unofficial Musical Album Live in Concert at the Kennedy Center. The concert, which featured Broadway stars like the Tony winner Kelli O’Hara and Solea Pfeiffer, the place has been sold.
Netflix claims in the lawsuit that the company tried to broker a licensing deal that would have allowed Barlow and Bear to continue performing their material and distributing albums, but the pair refused. Netflix says it also made a “repeated objection” to Barlow and Bear’s decision to hold a live concert of the material. “Throughout the performance, Barlow & Bear misrepresented the audience that they were using Netflix’s BRIDGERTON trademark ‘with permission,'” states the lawsuit, which also notes that Bear admitted in an April interview with The New York Times that the duo “do not own the intellectual property” According to the lawsuit, Barlow and Bear have other plans to profit from the material, including another live concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall on September 20 and alleged merchandise.
Netflix, Quinn and Rhimes all have published statements regarding the suit. “What started as a fun celebration by Barlow & Bear on social media has turned into a blatant intellectual property grab solely for Barlow & Bear’s financial benefit,” reads Rhimes’ statement, according to Deadline. “This property was created by Julia Quinn and brought to life on screen through the hard work of countless people. Just as Barlow & Bear would not allow others to appropriate their intellectual property for profit. , Netflix can’t sit idly by and allow Barlow & Bear to do the same with Bridgerton.”
Barlow and Bear did not immediately respond to vanity loungerequest for comment.