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Lake County man says Big Ten stole his idea
By Amie Shak | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/12/2008 12:13 AM

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A Lake County man filed a lawsuit claiming that the Big Ten Network was an idea he proposed 10 years ago.

Robert B. Cummins, an attorney for Robert W. Welsh, who was described as a businessman and resident of Lake County, filed the lawsuit alleging Welsh developed the business plan for the Big Ten Network and presented the plan to Big Ten Conference officials in early 1998 under terms of strict confidentiality.

The suit names the Big Ten Conference Inc. and Big Ten Network Services LLC. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on March 5, court records show.

Welsh said he was told the Big Ten were interested in his plan and wanted to move forward with the relationship upon further approval, court documents show.

Welsh says in his suit he distributed his plan and made a detailed presentation including specific details of the plan to several Big Ten officials but did so on a confidential basis, the lawsuit says.

One part of the plan was television coverage that included "typically nonrevenue producing women's and men's athletic events coupled with a variety of so-called talk show formats and other features," the lawsuit says.

Welsh's lawsuit further says conference officials subsequently told him they had no interest in any aspect of his plan but later stole his ideas.

Welsh is accusing Big Ten Conference officials and the Big Ten Network of violating the Illinois Trade Secrets Act and a confidentiality agreement.

Welsh is seeking unspecified monetary damages that include attorneys fees, proceeds and profits from the Big Ten Network and Big Ten Conference.

Welsh, Big Ten Network officials and Big Ten Conference officials were all unavailable for comment late Tuesday.