patent applicationWhen I wrote screenplays in grad school, our instructors advised us to send them to the WGA office to strengthen our copyright stake. Now a scientist/screenwriter is attempting to gain an entirely different level of protection on his script ideas: a patent. Andrew Knight, who works as a patent agent, currently has two patents on rocket motors and also has submitted his plots for potential movies to the U.S. Patent Office for approval.

In the past, patents were generally granted for inventions. Lately, they've been granted for software innovations, new medications ... but movie plots? I think that's outside the boundaries of the concept of a patent. Who wants to check through a long list of patents before embarking on feature-film production? Who wants to ask for a patent number before hearing a pitch? Besides, copyright should sufficiently cover screenplays and script treatments. The Forbes article, however, notes that patents have been granted to a number of games, and that it might seem like a short leap from a role-playing game to a movie script.

Will we ever know what Knight's script ideas were, the ones that he felt were so unusual and amazing that he had to apply for a patent for them? All we know right now is that they are about "cyberspace." Since I find it unlikely that Hollywood wants to tangle with patents, that may be all we ever know.
categories Cinematical