Magic trick patents protect the hard work you have put into perfecting a new illusion from being copied by another person without your consent. Unfortunately, magic trick patents cannot be obtained in the United States. There are other steps you can take to protect your tricks, though.

Protecting a Magic Trick

When you're creating something new for the first time, you're putting much time and effort into your creation. Once you have launched your new product, however, reproducing it is usually significantly easier and less time-consuming. A perfect example of this concept is the atom bomb. What took years of research, trial, and error to perfect can now be produced quickly in mass. If this is true for such a complicated scientific breakthrough, it's likely even truer in the case of a magic trick.

Throughout the history of magic, there have been countless instances in which a magician has spent years perfecting a new trick, only to find that another magician has already copied it before he could brand it as his own. Probably one of the most difficult things to process in these scenarios is that the originality of the project on which you worked so hard goes unrecognized. After all, you're not the only magician performing the trick you invented. In addition, your talents and skills are also going unrecognized.

Because of these concerns, it's common for many magicians to wonder if it's possible to obtain patents for their magic tricks, similar to the way musicians patent their songs, playwrights patent their scripts, and scientists patent their inventions. A number of magicians are in favor of patenting their work. However, there is an argument among certain circles stating that patents do little to protect a magician's hard work and creativity. This argument states that, because of the fact that patents require magicians to reveal the details of the trick they are patenting, the patent itself can lead to concerns such as:

  • Making it easier for another magician to copy the trick
  • The public breaking the illusion by discovering the trick's secrets

One way to work around these concerns is to patent certain elements of the act the trick is a part of, such as:

  • Jokes
  • Dialogue
  • Misdirection tactics
  • Staging and choreography

Magic Trick Laws, Ethics, and Etiquette

Whether there is a specific law in place regarding something you are planning to do, it's important in the magic community to respect the work, creativity, and rights of other professionals in the field. It is worth noting that a knowledge of the laws that pertain to magic doesn't do much to influence some people. This is partly because these laws are rather abstract, and many magicians know it would be difficult to enforce them. While it has been done in the past, it's actually quite difficult to pursue legal action in an attempt to protect a magic trick or an idea.

That being said, most magicians are quite reluctant to intentionally copy another's work, including things such as:

  • Props
  • Dialogue
  • Overall presentation

Most magicians respect each other in this manner for ethical reasons rather than fear of legal repercussions. Laws are pretty set in stone and don't change much. In a community of people who are proficient in misdirection, skirting around these laws would be quite easy if they chose to do so. Morals, on the other hand, aren't quite as easy to work around. No amount of planning can help you avoid your morals. Unfortunately, however, there have been enough instances of violating the ethical code to which most magicians voluntarily adhere that it has become a requirement to put laws in place.

That being said, in the United States, a magic trick can't be protected under copyright laws. There are a few things you can do to protect your tricks, though, and few magicians have been known to take advantage of them. This may be because these also offer relatively little protection in the event that another magician chooses to violate the ethical code and copy your work. Some of these things include:

  • Copyright elements such as staging, choreography, or dialogue that pertain to your trick
  • Patent specific devices used in your trick, but not the trick itself
  • Exercise your rights under Trade Dress Law
  • Take advantage of Trade Secret Law

If you need help with magic trick patents, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies such as Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.