Friday, April 24, 2020

Perry Mason does patents in "The Case of the Baffling Bug"

Many Perry Mason episodes involve plotlines that are timeless. "The Case of the Baffling Bug," first broadcast December 12, 1965, is not one of them, and is more in line with the "ripped from the headlines" approach of the later-in-time "Law and Order."

The "baffling bug" title relates to electronic surveillance, and captures the industrial espionage component of this case, which pertains to theft of secrets (from the Tryon company) related to technology for water desalination. Although in the year 2020, one worries about China stealing technology (e.g., the Lieber/Harvard case), back in 1965 the bogeymen were Italy and Japan, each of which is represented by a character in baffling bug (Dr. Nina Revelli played by the actress Aliza Gur; Dr. Maseo Tachikawa played by Teru Shimada).

Apart from the espionage, one has a murder of Horace Lehigh, an investigator hired by the head of of the company Tryon to look into possible industrial espionage against Tryon.

Although the episode does not mention the words "trade secrets," the episode does mention patents, and patents turn out to be critical in identifying the murderer, although not the secret stealer. In another "how it was in 1965" moment, the difficulty in obtaining patent copies in 1965 (but certainly not now) was pivotal.

For good measure, the episode has a "Mark Lemley" moment.

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