‘Inventor’ Andrew Knight has several United States published patent applications for the storylines of movie plots. So far his portfolio includes four patent applications that variously published in November and December of last year. They are all entitled “Process of relaying a story having a unique plot”. The main claim of United States Patent Application Number US2005/0282140 reads as follows:
“A process of relaying a story having a timeline and a unique plot involving characters, comprising: indicating that a first character experiences de-ja-vu to mask an actual event.“
United States Patent Application Number US2005/0272013 claims
“A process of relaying a story having a timeline and a unique plot involving characters, comprising: indicating that a first character voluntarily enters a virtual reality; indicating a belief by said first character that said first character is not in virtual reality; and indicating that an interaction in virtual reality between said first character and a second character, while said first character has said belief, causes said first character to labor for, at most, a compensation substantially lower than a market value of said first character’s labor.”
United States Patent Application Number US20050255437 claims
“A process of relaying a story having a timeline and a unique plot involving characters, comprising: indicating a character’s fear of at least one of acting in a particular manner and performing a particular task; indicating said character being provided with a virtual reality environment having a characteristic; indicating that said character’s fear is at least one of reduced and eliminated in said virtual reality environment due to said characteristic; and indicating a belief of said character that said character is in said virtual reality environment at a time in said timeline in which said character is not in said virtual reality environment.”
And the pioneering patent application of this genre: United States Patent Application Number US20050244804 claims
“A process of relaying a story having a timeline and a unique plot involving characters, comprising: indicating a character’s desire at a first time in said timeline for at least one of the following: a) to remain asleep or unconscious until a particular event occurs; and b) to forget or be substantially unable to recall substantially all events during the time period from said first time until a particular event occurs; indicating said character’s substantial inability at a time after said occurrence of said particular event to recall substantially all events during the time period from said first time to said occurrence of said particular event; and indicating that during said time period said character was an active participant in a plurality of events.“
Knight is a registered Patent Agent. His rationale for claiming patent protection rather than to rely on copyright protection may be found on his website at www.plotpatents.com. It is not impossible that he will be proved right, and that plotlines are patentable in the US which seems to consider everything patentable, including the human genome.
On 4 August 2005, in an earlier, related development, Judge George Daniels granted summary judgment to Dan Brown and Random House that the Da Vinci Code did not infringe Lewis Perdue’s rights. The ruling may be found at the following link: copyright opinion. To be fair to Lewis Perdue, we are also linking his comments on the issue: see Da Vinci Crock Blogspot.
We do not believe that there is a case for patenting storylines. Whilst accepting that many of Shakespeare’s plays were based on prior art story lines, we are not sure that the development of English literature would have been served by allowing patent infringement suites to be filed against him.