Intellectual Property Law

New Matter WINTER 2021, VOLUME 46, EDITION 4


Thomas A. Ward
Editor-in-Chief of New Matter

Welcome to the winter edition of New Matter for 2021. This edition has been changed again slightly to continue to comply with the California Lawyer’s Association (CLA) guidelines. This version will be closer to our final format for the foreseeable future. The mint green color for the Intellectual Property Section is made more prominent for this edition. The larger font and book type binding which is continued from the last issue we hope will make New Matter more easily readable.

The cover art for this issue shows the magic trick for sawing a person in half. Numerous articles state that magic tricks are not patentable, but that is not the case. The Horace Golden patent of 1923, Patent No. 1,458,575, discloses and claims a box for sawing-a-person-in-half magic trick and describes how the trick is done. The problem with patenting magic tricks is that the patent is published, and the magic trick is in the public domain after 17 years (in 1923), so anyone can use it after 17 years, and everyone can read how the trick is done immediately upon publication of the patent. Trade secret probably provides the best protection for the magic trick, as the trick never has to be disclosed, and a non-disclosure agreement can be used to prevent performers who learn the trick from revealing the trade secret. Further, the trade secret is now enforceable in federal as well as state courts. There is no time limit for trade secrets and the magic trick can be kept confidential for many years.

As always, I continue to thank our New Matter editorial staff for accomplishing the work to get this publication to you. In particular, thanks to Amanda Nye who is the Acquisition Editor, Anthony Craig who is the Production Editor, Dabney Eastham who is Senior Articles Editor, and Leaf Williams who is Associate Production Editor.

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