Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"The Defenders" show does the Uniform Trade Secrets Act on 17 Nov 2010

In The Defenders on Nov. 17, a point is made that Nevada state law protecting journalistic sources doesn't explicitly include internet publishing, and a subpoena to a blogger to reveal his source (who allegedly stole a magic trick of one Pettigrew) goes through. The magic trick is said to be covered by the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA).

Penn Jilette appears in the episode as character Reuben Charters, the source of the blogger and who ultimately delivers some words of wisdom about intellectual property.
The blogger never gave up Charters, but Charters did save the blogger, by showing there was no secret (though that assertion might be contemplated on these facts).

On the IP theme, expert magicians advise Pete Kaczmarek: copyright doesn't apply and patent gives the trick away. They reference the King William trick created in 1700. But they also note they don't know the origin of Pettigrew's trick, suggesting it might be original. [Pettigrew played by Justin Willman].

Reuben Charters testifies that he owns a magic shop in Las Vegas and has lectured on magic. Pete referred in court to the Nevada Trade Secrets Act. Reuben points out that the magic trick in question was published in an obscure book: Illusionista de Manuel. About 15 years earlier, a copy of the book was in the shop of Charters and Pettigrew had access. Of Pettigrew, Charters states: "He never learned the value of magic. Stealing the legacy and claiming it for oneself is a sin." Colin Pettigrew later bought the book. Charters observed that Pettigrew stood on the shoulders of giants, as do we all. The issue here is one of plagiarism (copying without attribution) as well as claiming ownership of a "secret" derived from someone else.

Nick Morelli: I can't ask questions I don't know the answers to, that's lawyering 101.

In the Whitten case (the episode is captioned: Whitten v. Fenlee ), plaintiff asked for damages of $1.00 (this case was never about money) but got nine million.

The episode ends with Pettigrew's levitation trick.


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