The Trivial Side of IP Litigation

Last Friday another court case wrapped up in Canada. This case raised the difficult question of inventorship over a wildly successful product, based on an original idea, which made the four co-inventors millionaires several times over.

The product was Trivial Pursuit, and the co-inventors were Chris Haney and his friend Scott Abbott, brother John Haney and Ed Werner. David Wall, a Nova Scotia man, claims he was the source of the idea and relayed it to Chris Haney in 1979. The Trivial Pursuit game was a classic overnight success story – 22 million copies of it were sold in 1984 alone. Intellectual property questions like this are front-and-centre for every inventor, author or creator: how to protect original ideas and get credit when the paycheques are cut.

This case is reminiscent of the Neudorf vs. Nettwerk case in which Darryl Neudorf sued Sarah McLachlan and her record company for a declaration of co-ownership of copyright in several songs. That case was dismissed when the court found that the test for joint-authorship was never satisfied and that there was no intent to co-author the songs. Will Mr. Wall get a slice of the pie or will he go away empty handed? The court will hand down its decision in the next few months.

Calgary – 14:40 MST

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