Thursday, December 07, 2017

Perry Mason does patents

In "The Case of the Irate Inventor" (first broadcast 28 May 1960), "Perry Mason" brushes with patent law.

Thirty-nine years before Pfaff, the idea of whether or not an invention was "ready for patenting" arose in determining "who owned" rights to an invention. The particular agreement in the case involved partners, and had clauses for involuntary and voluntary sale of inventions. The partners adverse to Perry's client tried to obtain the invention through an involuntary sale, but Perry got a voluntary sale done first.

Thus, Perry outmaneuvered the adverse partners, and Della Street, Perry's loyal secretary, became owner of an invention for an anti-collision device (for airplanes and possibly other vehicles). The trick: if the partnership broke up, an inventor himself owned rights in inventions not ready for patenting at the break-up time.

This is not your typical Perry Mason episode. The perp did NOT confess in court, and invoked Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Not your usual Mason with a blurting confession at the end. The details of "what happened" were not revealed until the epilog in Perry's office. As to inventors per se, the disgruntled wife of the inventor was feeding details of his invention to her lover who was his competitor. The cheating wife was the decedent in this case, but not by the victimized husband.

Berger (Talman) is in the credits, but this was near the time he was removed from the show (later to come back).


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