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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Patent Movies

Patent absurdity screen grab I just watched a wonderful movie about software patents: Patent Absurdity (Luca Lucarini 2010). It's freely downloadable, and I heartily recommend showing it if you teach Intellectual Property or Patent Law. The best thing about it is, it's pitched at the perfect level for law students. It's not dumbed down, but it's also not so technical that you need to be a full-fledged patent lawyer to enjoy it. And with a 29-minute runtime, I'm planning on showing it in-class. It puts an astonishing amount of material out there very quickly, giving you a feel for a ton of doctrine, industry practice, and historical context. (My favorite part is the Cold War nostalgia graphic depicting the software superpowers' patent arms race, which then explodes into patent-litigation armageddon.) 

Flash_of_Genius_DVD_cover Another great patent movie is Flash of Genius (Universal 2008). A feature-length film, it's better for a homework assignment or for showing on an optional movie night. As general-audience fare, it's light on doctrine, but it's filled with insight into the idea of the heroic inventor in American culture. It also provides a compelling portrait of the draining nature of the courts and the litigation process.

I should note that patents and movies share an important historical intersection. Many people credit Edison's patents on motion picture technology, and the desire of nascent film studios to stay away from Edison's East Coast business operations, as a key factor in the development of Hollywood and Southern California entertainment industry. 

Posted by Eric E. Johnson on June 22, 2010 at 05:11 PM in Film, Information and Technology, Intellectual Property, Teaching Law | Permalink


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Patent Infringement is a growing problem. Since law does not require manufacturers to inform patent owners that they are using the patent owner’s invention, Patent infringement can be unintentional. In most cases, it will be up to the owner of the patent to pursue Patent Litigation, a costly and time consuming process. It is always a good idea, if you are going to get a patent, that you do extensive research to make sure that no one already has a patent, and that you continue to monitor the industry to ensure that no one uses your patent with out your consent.

Posted by: Erin | Jun 24, 2010 6:03:44 PM

See the Patently-O discussion at http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2010/04/patent-absurdity-the-movie.html , which largely pans this movie.

Posted by: Anon | Jun 23, 2010 10:23:42 AM

That graphic is boss, reminds me of WarGames and seems useful in demonstrating the precariousness of patents. Let's hope law students don't also need Matthew Broderick to teach them the concept of futility with tic-tac-toe.

Posted by: Matt | Jun 23, 2010 12:02:41 AM

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