250px-JoTVPosterIt seems simple and basic: a contract isn’t valid until it is signed. And even if the parties swap back-slapping, agreeable emails about the documents and one side even signs them, the two sides don’t have an enforceable accord without both inking copies — if that’s what they agreed they both needed, a federal court in Los Angeles has ruled. That decision scuttled the lawsuit filed against Ion TV by Atlantique Productions seeking millions of dollars in damages over claims of breach of contract and fraud involving eight episodes of Le Grand, an English-language detective series for which payment was supposed to occur on an episode-by-episode basis. Ion and Atlantique had agreed on their deal but a terms sheet never was signed; Atlantique had inked the paperwork and sent it to Ion, which had never signed it and sent it back. That made the contract invalid, said U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee, who noted that both parties had an understanding that “the terms sheet had to be signed by both parties” for the contract to be in force. As part of its claim that it believed the contract was good, Atlantique said it had sent Ion the dailies for the production, also known as Jo and starring the well-known and raspy-voiced actor Jean Reno. Gee said that action was irrelevant: Ion’s acceptance of the dailies did not mean a valid contract existed and sending the dailies was not considered specific performance. Ion, the French said, backed out of the deal citing what one report terms “creative concerns,” including that executives could not understand what Reno, the French show’s star, was saying. Gee granted summary judgment to Ion.