Sunday, December 09, 2012

"The Mentalist" does intellectual property on 9 Dec 2012

Early on in the episode titled "Panama Red", a guard with an automatic rifle at a California pot farm is stated to be "guarding intellectual property," in particular a very potent marijuana variety. The variety was developed by one "Jeremy," a free-lance biologist. The CBI team is investigating Jeremy's murder.

It seemed Jeremy had money in an account from a Bulgarian company incorporated in the Cayman Islands. Then, a link to J.G. Allen Tobacco Research Labs, which corporation was doing research on potent marijuana, with the project named TurboWolf, involving Jeremy. Yes, Jeremy was doing the same research for two different employers.

In terms of IP, the senior VP at Allen had paid security to install bugs on the scientists, with the VP noting "Researchers consistently fail to understand the importance of their own work." Hmmm, didn't Mark Lemley say that? In the story line, the senior VP had not informed the project manager, Francesca, of this bugging, because she had no need to know.

However, Francesca was ahead of the VP. Knowing the TurboWolf project was being shut down, she replaced the TurboWolf seeds with other seeds, which Jeremy in turn stole from the Allen Labs. Then, Matthew, Jeremy's boss at the California pot farm, killed Jeremy to get the seeds, not knowing that Francesca had already switched them, and thus that Matthew was stealing worthless seeds.

If nothing else, the episode illustrates how difficult it is for a company to maintain secrecy.


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