UIC Review of Intellectual Property Law


Sydney Beckman


Teller is a famous illusionist who, in recent years, has been performing a stage act with Penn Jillete in Las Vegas, Nevada. Teller’s signature trick, known as “Shadows,” was copied by a magician in Belgium who offered to sell the method. The Belgian’s trick, titled “The Rose and Her Shadow,” was virtually identical to Teller’s illusion. That which we call a rose by any other name . . . Teller wanted the Belgian magician to stop offering the trick for sale. After an unsuccessful attempt to negotiate, Teller took his dispute to federal court. His goal? To protect that which cannot be protected — at least not by Copyright law — the secret behind his trick. This paper discusses how a court used Copyright law to do just what Teller sought: To protect the secret behind a copyright protected magic trick.