TIL that Taco Bell failed to pay the men who pitched the idea of the Taco Bell Chihuahua and later were court ordered to pay $42.1 million dollars.

TIL that Taco Bell failed to pay the men who pitched the idea of the Taco Bell Chihuahua and late...

If you could win $42 million every time a client let its ad agency steal another agency's idea, it would set off a nuclear war of lawsuits at ad agencies.

Clients suck. They don't hire you and then give your idea to another agency for development.

Makes you wonder how many stolen ideas go under the radar if big companies like this think they can work with the originators for over a year developing the advertising campaign then decide not to pay them AND win in court.

Zuckerburg paid peanuts to the people who's idea he stole and now he's swimming in billions.

This is how some feature screenwriting works. Production companies/studios will have pitches where they invite a number of different solo writers come in to pitch their own take on an idea or existing story / IP. The company then takes their favorite parts from all the pitches, combines those elements, and hires a different writer to write the thing.

Very common in Hollywood, very awful, and the WGA is striking... but not over that. They stopped caring about feature writers years ago.

Don't get me started on free treatments and months of work on projects where the writer doesn't get paid. If you complain, they stop calling you and get someone else to do it for free.

And that's why this happens


My professor at my school, Kendall College of Art and Design, knew this man and the idea was drawn on a bar napkin. She always tells us this story and always pushes us to document everything we make. You never know how much money you'll get!

Zuck stole work, not just a concept. Making it exclusive to ivy league students was pretty smart too.

And it's not like it was a new idea even at the time. It's a everyone uses it because everyone is on it phenomenon. There were days when you would be constantly switching making new profiles on those early internet platforms so nobody ever got critical mass.

Documents. If you have documentation that Taco Bell came to your ad agency and you pitched them this idea then they turned around and went to a different agency and told them to use your idea, I would think you have a strong case.

Prestige/illusionist and megamind/despicable me were wins on both sides of the aisle

If there is anything to be learned from this story it's that goddamn I really want a chalupa and a steak quesadilla right now.

The most important aspect of Facebook's growth (in hindsight) was their slow rollout. It allowed them to avoid the problems that plagued Friendster and other companies from a technical standpoint, while developing a vibe that this thing was seriously cool.

Ultimately now they've tipped the market, and the market will stay tipped most likely because the network effects in social media are just so high.

I am getting pretty tired of corporations not paying their due. This seems to be getting more pervasive in American society, or maybe I am just more sensitive to it today. I get it, you are in business to make money, but so is the little guy. I'm glad Taco Bell got their asses handed to them here, and I hope more companies follow suit to stop this nonsense.

How do you prove you made the pitch?

Didn't you read the article? That wasn't an idea, this was full-fledged development.

In 2003, Taco Bell lost a lawsuit by two Michigan men, who had pitched the concept of the Chihuahua to Taco Bell six years earlier at a Licensing Show in NYC. Taco Bell worked with Thomas Rinks and Joseph Shields for over a year developing the Chihuahua campaign and commercials, but TB failed to pay the men according to court documents.

The basis doesn't fall on you to prove that you didn't rip off your work, the basis falls on someone else to prove that you did.

I also enjoyed both Bicentennial Man and A.I., the two also seem very different to me other than the fact that they both deal with artificial sentience.

Yo quiero fucking pay me.

Son, how many marajuanas did you do!?

Hey! I went there! Boy, that school sucked. At least in the 80s.

Parallel development is real, and it's not usually on purpose or nefarious. Sometimes the same ideas just come up independently at the same time. I'd bet a few years before Deep Impact and Armageddon were made, there were a ton of science articles about potential asteroid impacts.

I might be in a small minority, but Conan improved during it. All of his writers were on strike so he did all of the writing for the show, and IMO it was the best his show had ever been in a long long time.

Ultimately now they've tipped the market, and the market will stay tipped most likely because the network effects in social media are just so high.

Yeah - just like MySpace!

Seriously, don't underestimate this stuff. How many Millennials have ditched Facebook? Of those who are still on it, how many only stay to stay in touch with family?

It's entirely possible they'll all land somewhere and start building. Then the more "in touch" GenXers will create a profile in the new place and straddle the two while gradually shifting their activity to the new place, etc.

It's a good time for someone to try, since FB continues to change stuff and becomes increasingly annoying. It's also really toxic in terms of filter bubbles (in fact, that might be one of the drivers for a competitor - something that actively forces you out of filter bubbles, which would be embraced by more liberal younger folks).

The most interesting part would be migration - how do you ensure that folks can move over at least all their photos? (I don't think migrating friends would be as big a deal as many think, given the amount of ongoing friend-pruning I always see)

[edit] Deleted "more liberal" - it was a something I wrote in haste that upon consideration didn't fit, and whether it's "correct" or not is completely irrelevant to the entire comment. Please disregard it.

Another strike? Wasn't the last one like 10 years ago and RUINED shows like LOST, Heroes, etc? I wonder which shows will get effed this time around. Hopefully they finished Game of Thrones!

Edit: Oh shit I just realized Westworld might get caught up in this madness... OMFG NO!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah that wasn't a fair comparison IMO. Not only did one come out two years after the other, but it was during a time when AI scifi movies were very popular.

not always. pixar develops its stories internally. sometimes competing films come from just hearing about other movies in development.

Considering your president made his entire company based around not paying your dues, it's a pretty widespread phenomenon.

Serious question- how would you prove you didn't rip it off someone else?

Let's say two ad agencies have the same idea at around the same time, with no contact between them. For example, Burger King is trying to attract more women, so two ad agencies come up with a Burger Queen as a pitch?


Still does

After working in the legal field, I have come to understand the law favors those who can afford the best legal counsel. It sucks, but the legal system is not kind to those who cannot afford it.

Wal-Mart was not quaint, useful or friendly 20 years ago. I remember people talking about how they abandoned land and drove out mom and pop shops... 35 years ago. By then people were already talking about how they screwed their suppliers too. They opened their first Sam's club in 1983. They've been basically what they are today for more like 50 years.

I think it's beyond rediculous to act like the success of Facebook is "one good idea". Facebook continued to be explosively successful even when it branched beyond that original idea, and growing anything into a multi billion dollar business takes a lot of innovating, good/great work.

They just paid 500 million over the Oculus cofounder violating his NDA. His cofounder settled for a non-disclosed amount, but also owns billions in Facebook stock.

He also stole the source code.

no one wants to be a feature writer because tv pays way better.


Conan is way funnier when he's improvising IMO. He's a great host and does his job well enough, but he's just too funny to really be able to shine when he's sticking to the standard talk show style and script. I've always really hoped for a Curb your Enthusiasm style show starring Conan

Facebook is going the way of wal mart. Wal mart, 20 years ago was this magical place with everything. It was so quaint, useful, and friendly. It got so big and efficient at money, that it's often used as THE example for shit business. It just got too big while worrying about pennies. Facebook is going down that road too. I'm surprised Amazon hasn't started that evil spiral.

You know, I was in the Target Audience™ during that timeframe, and until you mentioned it, Gordy wasn't even a blip on my radar.

Babe, however? I remember Babe.

I really like this album; it's like playing 'Hot or Not' with multi-million dollar investments!

One million dollars

Aren't you that guy from that gaming forum?

I remember being little and noticing this trend. I always thought it was just cheaper companies trying to profit off of a hit movie, since there always seemed to be one good movie and one crappy movie, then realized later in life movies took months and months to make and then I just had no idea at all why it happened.

Actually, according to the Pixar biography, since the animation industry was so small in the beginning, they used to be very open with what they worked on and shared their ideas. Then the whole Bug's Life vs Antz happened, where the leaders at Pixar understood that Dreamworks had copied their movie theme, and were racing them to premiere their movie first. After that, they stopped being open, which they in the book described as a sad day.

Yeah excuse didn't cut it in third grade either.

You pitch your script to studio A and they say no thanks. But they take the general idea and tweak it enough to make it somewhat different. At the same time studio B buys your script and makes your movie.

People don't go on strike for no reason. You might not personally care about their issues, but shitting on their attempt to better their working conditions is selfish.

Depends. The best thing you can do is have other marketable skills. However, I also want you to follow your dreams.

If you have a lawyer friend, not a guy you know, but an actual friend who is not off put by the idea of helping you, ask for their assistance. If you can afford an actual lawyer, use them every time you agree to anything.


If you are confident and have a contract that you know they are fucking you over on, you have actionable intent and justification.

It's about being aware and not letting yourself get taken advantage off. Read up, learn from those who are striking and hear what they have to say. If you know how you can get fucked, you can better work to avoid it.

Lastly, stop being an aspiring anything. If you want to be a writer, write, read, watch and learn every fucking day. Don't think that a pilot or a publication makes you a writer. If you only think of yourself as aspiring, you are far less likely to ever become more than that. You have to know the classics, the new fringe shit that you don't even like, the failures, the out of nowhere success. If you want to become great at something, you have to know what it is and believe that you can actually become great.

Nah. It's just Reddit.

Learn to code.


To be entirely fair... Bicentennial man would have been much more similar except that Robin Williams was cast.

A.I. was kind of dour and serious, as is the source material for Bicentennial man, but you throw Robin Williams into the mix and it's a completely different movie.

Which really goes to show that true talent can make a massive difference.

A colleague of mine is a presentation specialist and was looking for a new job.

He found his dream and went all out giving them some of his best work, all custom power point presentations that took him 80 hours of work.

He didn't get the job, but about 6 months later he applied to another job through a recruiter and submitted the same work.

The recruiter called him out and said that all the aspects of his presentation were for sale on a website. Turns out the dream job he had previously applied for was just stealing everyones work and then selling it as there own.

Moral of the story, protect what is yours.

With all that juicy CIA front venture capital waiting for him.. could you blame him? He's obviously a vile piece of shit.

Former business partner (I was partners with him in an allied business) had the tourism business for an entire country, as in, their international face.

His creative partner had left, and time came to renew their contract. He figured he was probably going to lose the contract, but got some other creative people together, and put together a pretty good pitch.

They loved it, in fact, but didn't renew with him. They did like the campaign he pitched so much, they used it, pretty much verbatim. Down to the font.

Here's a TL;DR from an article just posted today:

...writers’ per-episode compensation hasn’t changed, which means they can receive the same amount of money for three or more weeks of work writing an episode that they typically would have received for two or less

Many writers get paid less overall during TV seasons, the money they earn during breaks has decreased, and they aren’t free to work on other shows during breaks — all of which has had a sizable effect on wages. Between 2013-’14 and 2015-’16, writers saw their median earnings drop sizably: co-producers and producers by 19 percent, supervising producers by 12 percent, co-executive producers by 26 percent, consulting producers by 23 percent, executive producers by 8 percent, and showrunners by 21 percent. The average wage depression for writers was 25 percent.

By contrast, in 2016, the six biggest studios that belong to the AMPTP reported $51 billion in operating profits, which represents about double their profits 10 years ago (the last time the WGA went on strike).

Yo quiero dinero.

AGREED. He's a certified comedy genius in my book.

The free hand of the market will bestow upon the writers their just deserves. No way would "leadership" (management) siphon those profits into their pockets. They're obviously doing the hardest work and making the toughest choices. Without the management's crucial decision making there's no way movies could be made.

This was remarkable marketing. Everyone remembers it. As a chihuahua owner I am reminded of this ad campaign. Every. Damn. Day.

Let's please take a moment to remember the Babe vs. Gordy fiasco.

One time, at Kroger, I saw in a bin, a DVD for "Nacho the Taco Dog".

A rip off of a corporate mascot character to deceive children.

If there were a "Blow up the Earth" button in front of me at that moment, I would have pressed it, as we did not deserve to exist.

And Kubrick had been working on AI for quite some time (before handing over to Spielberg)

"In 2003, Taco Bell lost a lawsuit by two Michigan men, who had pitched the concept of the Chihuahua to Taco Bell six years earlier at a Licensing Show in NYC. Taco Bell worked with Thomas Rinks and Joseph Shields for over a year developing the Chihuahua campaign and commercials, but TB failed to pay the men according to court documents".

Or like Microsoft notes I guess.

I have a friend who used to own 3 Little Ceaser pizza restaurants. He came with the idea of Ready to go. After his success the company started to use it. And of course my friend sued them. It started a court wars that Little Ceaser sued back my friend. They sued back for lots of minor details until my friend banckrupted and no longer pay even fees. They ruined practically a great and hardworking man's life who had 30 plus years in pizza business and saved the company by his idea. Today he drives trucks after he lost everything in his life.

Lastly, stop being an aspiring anything. If you want to be a writer, write, read, watch and learn every fucking day.

That's pertinent to everything.

Of all those, the Prestige and the Illusionist were probably some of the best twins to come out. I really enjoyed both movies. Its funny though when you see one twin that greatly outshines the other and it makes you wonder witch one threw the original pitch under the buss.

I hate you for this but, it's not inaccurate. Being a writer with even basic coding abilities means a lot to marketing departments. I've published one novel, countless articles, got a deal once or twice but I've made more money showing up for the corporate gig with a little knowledge and a sizeable writing portfolio. Wish it weren't like this but it is.

the 4400 got destroyed because of that last time. a little part of me wants to see it come back and get treated right.

No. Lost was already fucked up(same writers finished Lost). now Heroes...oh yea, right in the knees.

I mean it can even be a matter of resources. They corporations can hire a army and you can hire only one good lawyer (if that). They'll always have the upper hand

You don't make a billion dollars without screwing at least some people over.

Migration mainly depends on social circles. In all my surrounding schools they primarily use Instagram and Snapchat. In our school we use Instagram Snapchat but mostly Facebook. Mainly for ease of communication and everyone's already on Facebook.

That happened to us recently. We were meeting with a future client. They paid for an initial retainer which was great.

We held the consultation with them and they had a business partner who wasn't able to make it. We pitched our idea to them and they loved it but were going to discuss it.

Then they said they didn't have the budget in hand to do it. And 5 months later we saw the exact same idea that we pitched to them around town.

Apparently their partner recorded the whole thing and they hired a low budget company to do replicate most of it.

One of the hugest examples is Deep Impact and Armageddon. I'm not gonna talk about pitches because I don't know the whole story, just that Deep Impact was pitched all over town before it was made by an indie company.

Deep Impact came first, in the early summer, and is arguably the better film, because it is a character drama with the looming apocalypse as a backdrop. The deep impact is really about how people deal with their relationships and fear and everything. It's a truly emotional movie if you haven't had the chance. It also has a great cast. Just dismiss the science and watch it for the emotional impact. It's deep.

Anyway, the film did very well off a rather modest budget. Audiences and critics do not agree with my take on the film, but it still made money. None of that mattered though, because everyone knew that Jerry Bruckheimer and Touchstone (then Disney's 'grownup' production arm) were doing Armageddon with the guy who'd directed The Rock and Bad Boys.

The production of Armageddon was chaotic because it was such a rush job. They wanted an Independence Day release (Will Smith did not have a July 4th film that year). They spent twice as much money, went big and splashy, and got Aerosmith to write perform what has become one of their most memorable songs to date. They made the deadline, and went on to be the highest grossing film of 1998.

Edit: To sum up, I can't say that Disney threw the filmmakers behind Deep Impact under the bus, but I will ask anyone to watch the films back to back and just see what you think. Back then, I loved Armageddon much like I'd loved Independence Day. I thought Deep Impact was the pretentious version of Armageddon. But watching them both in my 40s rather than my 20s, I see just how much more of an impact the former movie makes.

Also, I don't like to talk about it too much because I love them both (and one of the fan bases has a reputation of being rather overprotective), but a very similar thing happened after J. Micheal Straczynsky pitched Babylon 5 all over town. Paramount was gonna make another Star Trek show regardless, but it makes you wonder what that show may have been about if JMS had never existed...

Just sayin.

EDIT2: Thanks to /u/Oliveoilandgarlic for pointing out that the song was written by Diane Warren and merely performed by Aerosmith. I apologize for my error.

Does it ever get tiring?

I can confirm this. My best friend from high school is neighbors with the Rinks family. It is well known they made their money from this one campaign when Taco Bell failed to pay them accordingly and then ended up making a life times earnings in one lawsuit. They are a super Christian family and believe the world is very fair as you can imagine.

GUYS!!! GUYS! Don't freak out. He intentionally didn't include an /s tag because the implied sarcasm should be that obvious.

I think the Paul Blart/Observe and Report dichotomy illustrates this really well. Two flicks about mall security, two schlubby actors, two comedies, but one is a dick-and-fart-joke piece and the other makes you really uncomfortable that you're laughing at it.

idea's one thing, execution is another.

But apparently they have smart professors.

Actually this one has the right story. I did not want to give details earlier but since you very kindly provided more info, let me correct the story for you.


My friend is Jim. Everyone knew he had come up with the idea and even branding about hot n ready for his 3 pizza restaurants.

The company took over his idea and spread to world.

After some time my friend sued the company. Company sued him back like crazy. My friend lost his case. (Although he had possessed a short video of the ex owner of Little Ceaser saying "we acted unfairly towards Jim" the new owners did not care).

Howevee this becomes the interesting bit - my friend has spent 25 to 30 years in pizza business. So everyone loved him in Sioux Falls. Great guy. He lost 2 of his restaurants and his farm but he hang on to his last restaurant.

Changed name from Little Ceasers. What LC did from there is interesting.

They rented the next building. And started a war at courts. They sued Jim even for the shape of hos pizza boxes - saying "the square shape of pizza box belongs to LC". I heard the judge laughed at them. And judge got tired of seeing same company suing Jim's little business over and over and over.

Upto a point that Jim could not able to pay even the fees of these courts.

LC was so asshole that they rented a giant post right behind my friends pizza shop. Literally advertising for LC over Jim's roof. The sign was maybe 3 to 4 feet away from Jim's restarurant's wall.

Jim lost all his restaurants. Farm. House. He only able to kept his mother's home. He is a driver now.

LC did not stopped after they won. Kept coming back and asked him to sign that for many years he can not be in pizza business.

This was a man in his mid 50's. Ready to retire. Amazing guy. Helped so many people in his city that you would be surprised. I am one of them.

Most of his pizza employees were working for him over 10 years. His managers were with him 15 plus years.

Edit forgive my typos. This is emotional. And I am not a native speaker.

I'm still bitter about what happened to Heroes. The reboot sucked too.

You're looking at humanity all wrong. The very fact that we are able to even think of making a direct-to-dvd ripoff of a corporate fast-food mascot (and most likely profit on it) tells me that we're more advanced than you can even imagine. I don't think you or I ever even thought about such a thing. Just like pioneers before us gazed up at the sky and said "someday I'll go up there" and lo and behold we did.

Disney did steal Zootopia, though, pretty much whole cloth (down to three name). There's a lawsuit going down over it.

Same. That said, I would never gave noticed Over the Hedge as a twin of Open Season. To me, they were both great movies independently. Same with Megamind/ Despicable Me. Iirc they share only a very lose link, like "animals in people land" and "bad guy does good thing", so I'm guessing they both got the ideas very early into development.

Cause you can bury the opposition with paperwork and motions

I'm sure it happened, but I think the other poster is right too. Studios cranking out summer blockbuster movies don't pay writers millions to come up with unique stories, they take whatever is popular with the general populace at the time and they distill it into a formula.

Big volcano eruption/public concern at Mt. St. Helens? Time for a volcano movie. We're invading the Middle East and proud and patriotic about it? Let's make some war propaganda movies. Middle East turning into a quagmire? Critical war movies/feel good movies.

Other patterns are just cyclical. You can't make a new western every 2 years and get good numbers. But it's a game of waiting between the studios, because the first person to release a good one resets that counter. So they all pay their financial analysts to look at basically the same data and then tell them when the movie will be profitable enough to start production on. Since they're all looking at the same data more or less, they come out at similar times.

When nemo/fish tale were made we were in an economic boom and aquariums were more common than ever, so it was time for an animated fish movie. Likewise a good indie movie can convince big studios there is a market waiting, so they jump on it at the same time. Look at Paranormal Activity, that movie kicked off a new scary movie boom by itself.

I'm sure doing it to force competition or out of spite happens, maybe often. Yet the main driving force for movie production will always be $$$, and that's what causes most of the overlap.

oh god, I miss pushing daisies.

Weirdly enough this phenomenon happens with scientific discoveries and ideas, too.

Often times the person you're taught about making some huge discovery wasn't the only person to arrive at it independently, and it often happens around the same time.

I think I remember reading about another person proposing the idea of evolution around the same time Darwin did.

I could be wrong though, I'm too lazy to look it up right now.

Taco Bell...

Well, kind of. It's not a criminal suit which might be what people think of when they think about standards for guilt. There is no guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The side with the preponderance of evidence will win.

I tend to agree just because the Dreameorks films are always just so much "less" than the Pixar films. Finding Nemo is a masterpiece while Shark Tale is a pretty fun little Will Smith movie.

Do you have any comedy certifications available? Asking for a friend.

Yeah all us cool kids are on Google+

Just me bud.

The strike did wonders for Conan's beard though.

And the geico caveman show! Everyone forgets about that one...

redditors want to believe every successful tech person is an evil person, and making a billion dollar company is as easy as having the 'right idea' at the 'right time'. Not considering all the behind the scenes effort needed for a tech company to run.

Isn't this how life works in general?

Scrub employee tells Supervisor a good idea and gets a pat on the back. Supervisor brings it to the manager who gives him the ol attaboy for being his suckup and bringing him good ideas. Manager implements it and ends up taking credit for it when the higher ups take notice. They all shake hands and give themselves raises while eventually firing the scrub because business declined 0.1% and payroll needed to be lightened a little.

All writers in the union went on strike. In my opinion, it was some of the best Conan episodes ever during this time. It was just pure Conan.

I must say, quesadillas are a waste of money. They are like 5 dollars. For the same amount of meat on a taco, or a burrito, spread out over four times the size.

I used to work at taco Bell and we were always confused about the loving fan base of the quesadilla...Why guys? Now the doubledilla makes more sense.

The amount of people who mispronounce the names of food though...Wow..People saying gordata, coosadilla, etc..It was infuriating.

Years and years of blissful ignorance then, BAM! Geico Cavemen. The herpes they tarnished my memories with reminding me... Reminding me that I'll never be 100% free of them. When I'm on my deathbed, dying, "Geico Cavemen" will be my rosebud.

Amazon is, add-on items, raising the free shipping threshold, huge number of scam sellers. I regret getting their rewards card.

They completely forgot about his girlfriend. How does one just forget that the love of their life is trapped in a parallel dimension? I DON'T UNDERSTAND HEROES, WHY?

TIL. I always thought I was one of a fairly small minority who watched that and that that was what killed it--that it just didn't garner the ratings. A coworker of mine (now deceased) was also a fan, and we chatted about it...that's my association with the show forever, going on with her about "OMG Isabelle WTF" once a week.

Arrested Development was canned in 2006, before the writers strike. Even in the third season, you can see references to them fighting to stay on the air. It was low ratings, not the writers strike. Of course, just like freaks and geeks before it, it was ahead of its time.