Copperfield Patented This Illusion

A Magic Patent Dive

Every week, I send paying subscribers a magic Breakdown. Today, I’m introducing a new series called Patent Dive. We’re going to deep dive into a bunch of magic and illusion patents. There’s going to be historic, unexpected, rare and impossible inventions to explore.

People usually patent things to prevent others from stealing their hard work. The biggest magic names spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on new magic. Their tricks are crucial revenue-generating assets. Each illusion must break even and hopefully continue to generate profits. It makes sense to protect such a significant financial investment.

But there are other equally fascinating reasons to patent a trick. It might simply be a vanity project. Perhaps you want the world to know it’s your original invention. Patents are documented forever in the public domain. Maybe you intend to licence your trick to other industries. Theme parks and top companies will only pay the actual inventor.

I own a magic trick patent. The process was lengthy, expensive and also rather fascinating. For me, it was worthwhile in more ways than one. The patent paid for itself over time. We’ll dive into the details in a future post.

Quick Recap

  • Patents are expensive and difficult to acquire.

  • You need to be able to prove you really are the inventor (not as easy as it sounds).

  • There’s lots of legal nonsense, and the rules differ by country.

  • You may spend tens of thousands of dollars and never be granted the patent.

  • Patents are great deterrents but they don’t always provide the right protection in a legal battle.

  • Also, every patent must be publicly listed for the world to see.

The public part is not ideal for magicians, but you can be creative about naming the invention and who you list as its inventor. Patent attorneys might suggest listing someone you trust as the inventor instead of yourself. This makes the patent more challenging for the press, public and magic rivals to search and find.

I believe magicians must learn the many ways to protect magic. It’ll inspire more people to put in the time to create brilliant new magic, and I hope it might deter people from ripping each other off, too. Fingers crossed, I won’t need to see another magician rant on Facebook about how it’s totally impossible to patent a trick.

The goal is to unpack how and why magicians patent their tricks. To explore what can and can’t be protected and to what extent. And to look at some fascinating magic trick patents from the early 1900s.

It’s going to be a good time.

So why on earth has Copperfield patented an illusion under his name? Why did he choose to patent it at all? And why this illusion and only this illusion? These are all great questions. Let’s find out together in this month’s Patent Dive


Patent Dive: System and method for creating an illusion.

Copperfield only has one patent registered to his name. The patent application was submitted at the start of 2014 and granted just three months later — which is quite fast. It means Copperfield’s team knew what they were doing and even skipped the optional patent-pending application. Here’s how they describe the illusion.

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