Famed author Arthur C. Clarke once explained
that he never patented the the concept of geostationary communications satellites, which many say he invented, because a lawyer told him the concept was "too far-fetched to be taken seriously." But what about things going in the other direction. If, in a book or a movie, you describe or display a technology that has already been patented, is it infringement? Most people would dismiss such a concept as flat-out ridiculous. But a company called Global Findability apparently disagrees. It has sued Summit Entertainment, the producers of the sci-fi film, Knowing
, an apparently otherwise dreadful flick
that includes -- as a central plot point -- an "encoded message [that] predicts with pinpoint accuracy the dates, death tolls and coordinates of every major disaster of the past 50 years."
Yes, Global Findability is claiming that its patent on "Integrated information processing system for geospatial media" (Patent 7107286
) was infringed by this fictional device. Eriq Gardner, at THREsq, sums it up nicely:
We're familiar with patent troll lawsuits. We're also aware that Hollywood is prone to allegations of idea theft. But what we seem to have here is a strange new genre-bending legal claim where one can infringe technology in fiction similar to the way one can defame a person in fiction.