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Monday, July 26, 2010

A Case About Owning an Idea

More than thirty years ago, between 1957 and 1964, CBS provided television stations with a program called "Have Gun--Will Travel." The program starred "Paladin," a fictional cowboy who dressed in black, carried a derringer pistol, and handed out calling cards with a picture of a chess knight. More than forty years ago, in 1947, Victor DeCosta, the plaintiff in this case, began to appear, as a cowboy, at rodeos, hospitals, and charitable events. DeCosta dressed in black, carried a derringer pistol, handed out cards with a picture of a chess knight, and called himself "Paladin." In 1963 DeCosta sued CBS, claiming it had unlawfully copied his idea. Eventually, this court decided that CBS may have copied DeCosta's idea, but, the laws under which DeCosta had sued did not prohibit CBS from doing so. This court held that DeCosta had failed to prove a violation of trademark, or other relevant, laws.

My thoughts on this are simple, maybe DeCosta deserved some payment for his idea, but Richard Boone with CBS's media outlet made it a much fuller and enjoyable character.  If it had been left to DeCosta, the idea would have never captured the imaginaion of so many.  Should the originator of an idea own that idea to the exclusion of everyone elses use?  Something to ponder.

Yes, I love this character and I credit Richard Boone for brining him to life.  His portraial was perfect and it would be very difficult for another actor to create such a such a believeable and rich character. 

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