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OK, before we begin, please note that this could turn into a mild rant. There, you’ve been warned.
One of the recurring topics on this blog is the series of articles called “IP – Hit or Miss?” which we use to analyse the representation of intellectual property (IP) in films, TV and the media. We’ve generally focussed on film and TV references but recently I’ve noticed a number of articles in the press where the terms “patent”, “trade mark” and “copyright” have been used seemingly interchangeably. Now come on guys, it’s not that hard to get it right? Is it?
Well, maybe it is. So it’s time to name and shame and then educate. In the words of Popeye “That’s all I can stand, I can’t stands no more”.
In a recent article in the Guardian regarding President Obama’s plans to curb the perceived abuse of the patent system by non-practising entities (also known as patent trolls), the author points out that none of the recommendations involve a ban on software patent in the US, stating that:
“Nowhere in the administration’s recommendations is one that already applies in Europe: an outright ban on software patents…”
But is there such an “outright ban” on “software patents” (computer-implemented inventions) in Europe?
One of our readers suggested we take a look at Armageddon. This 1998 action/adventure sci-fi starring Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck has already been established as a science fail (1,2,3) but how accurate are the IP references made in the movie?
For those readers not familiar with Armageddon, the film revolves around an impending asteroid impact on Earth and a plan to drill deep into the asteroid and detonate a large enough nuclear weapon to split the asteroid into two pieces and thus avoid the end of the world. Bruce Willis plays the character Harry Stamper, the best deep-sea oil driller in the world, who is initially brought in to be an advisor to NASA. (more…)
In the film Iron Man 2, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) gets into an argument with his friend Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) who, after a bout of CGI enhanced fighting, makes off with one of his Iron Man suits.
Shortly after this, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) who is CEO of Stark Industries is seen berating someone on the telephone about the suit that has gone missing. During the call she says the following (as near as I recall):
“Illegal seizure of trademarked property”
“Don’t tell me we have the best patent lawyers in the country and then not pursue this”
So, what’s wrong with these statements? (Other than the fact I picked up on them and thought to write an article about it!).
Does The Doctor know his IP from his elbow?
Incidentally, just in case you’re wondering, there is an (admittedly tenuous) intellectual property (IP) connection to this story!
In the episode in question, Silence in the Library (trailer below), the Doctor and Donna are summoned to a planet sized library, The Library, via a message received on the Doctor’s psychic paper where they encounter a team of explorers led by Professor Song and funded by Mr Lux. The Doctor and Donna are encouraged to sign non-disclosure agreements upon encountering the team in order to ensure that their “individual experiences inside the Library are the intellectual property of the Felman Lux Corporation.”
It turns out that The Library has been deserted for 100 years following some kind of incident in which all the occupants of the Library disappeared. When things predictably start to go south the Doctor gets annoyed with Lux and declares “Mr Lux, right now, you’re in more danger than you’ve ever been in your whole life. And you’re protecting a patent?”
Just what does the Doctor mean by his reference to “protecting a patent”? Does it make sense from an IP context? Is it an IP hit or miss? And, am I over-thinking my Saturday night telly?
Ever been watching a film or something on TV and noticed that the intellectual property (IP) reference that just cropped up in the script is wrong? No? Well, you probably manage to get out more than me.
To this author at least (patent attorney, tech nerd and SF geek) references to patents, trade marks and the like seem to pop up quite frequently in the entertainment media.
IP Hit or Miss? is an occasional series of articles that takes a light-hearted look at IP as it appears in the media (films, TV, news reports etc) as an excuse to talk about different IP topics. A vague rating of “IP hit or miss?” may also be given depending on how well the particular IP concept has been incorporated into the media in question.
Want to suggest a film, TV show or other reference that we can take a look at? Drop us an email or leave a comment below.