Absolut Vodka faces £33m claim for 'stealing' TV programme concept

LONDON - Absolut Vodka is being sued for £33m by an Australian entrepreneur who claims it stole his idea for a charity-focused reality TV programme about New York bartenders.

According to Australia's Herald Sun newspaper, Scott Talbot has filed a suit in the New York Southern District Court that alleges the Pernod Ricard-owned brand took the idea he had given it and presented it to America's NBC network.

Talbot's show concept was called 'Charity Mixology' and was designed to raise money for Australian charities.

He is seeking damages in the region of £33m (Aus$76m) because Absolut broke its confidentiality agreement with his company Charity Group and presented a similar idea to NBC, which resulted in the greenlit series 'On The Rocks: The Search For America's Best Bartender'.

Talbot said he learned about the new show when he saw a link on Facebook in which Absolut was promoting it.

"The ... show misappropriates the very concept and structure of the 'Charity Mixology' show -- it is a reality show in which bartenders compete to create the best cocktails ... Absolut has, in blunt terms, stolen Charity Group's confidential information," the complaint document says.

A spokeswoman from Pernod Ricard's headquarters in France has told Brand Republic it has no knowledge of the case and is waiting to speak to its US division before commenting.

Absolut is also involved in a UK legal case filed last October in which it is claiming damages from Absolute Radio, which changed its name from Virgin Radio last autumn.

Absolut claims Absolute Radio is infringing its trademark and passing off its services as those of Absolut.

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