Another Trivial Lawsuit

Monday, January 22, 2007

  • Future Trivial Pursuit Question subject Gonzalo Moreno

    Future Trivial Pursuit Question subject Gonzalo Moreno

Written by Gonzalo Moreno

It is one of the greatest Canadian nerdy inventions, right up there with IMAX and miles ahead of the Canadarm. Yet, in the next few months, the intellectual property rights over the ever-popular board game Trivial Pursuit will be fiercely disputed in a trial before Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court.

The lawsuit was filed by David Wall, a Cape Breton plumber, in 1994. Wall claims that, while hitchhiking in 1979, he and a buddy were picked up by Christopher Haney, one half of the 'official’ brains behind the Trivial Pursuit concept (the other half is Haney’s fellow journalist and friend Scott Abbott). During the journey, Wall alleges he told Haney his idea for a board game, a game that was almost identical to what would become Trivial Pursuit – pies and all. Haney denies ever meeting Wall, let alone picking him up, and Trivial’s lawyers want to dismiss the whole affair.

Wall’s case seems spotty at best. His best witness is his own mother, who has testified that she found sketches (with more pies, presumably) in Wall’s drawer, but claims the sketches have since been destroyed. His other witness of choice, a high school buddy who claims Wall told him of the idea during ping-pong games (now, that’s a useful piece of trivia!), did not hold up during cross-examination. Wall’s friend Donnie Campbell, who allegedly was the second hitch-hiker, has declined to testify after losing a $300,000 lawsuit for slandering Trivial Pursuit, and has since admitted that his claims were fabricated. Evidence also shows that Wall and Campbell were intoxicated the day they were picked up, and that Haney was on assignment in Montreal the whole day that the meeting is alleged to have taken place.

Trivial Pursuit was ultimately launched in 1982, after Haney and Abbott teamed up with Haney’s former hockey pro brother, John, and with Ed Werner, a corporate lawyer. The game took off relatively quickly, and in the last 25 years it has sold millions of dollars’ worth of brightly coloured pieces of pie and cards with obscure questions printed in infinitesimal font.

Considering how the lawsuit is shaping up, Wall’s only claim to posterity may be a question buried in a possible 00's edition. I hope they put it in entertainment. I can never get the damn pink pie.

Sources: Wikipedia, CTV.ca, The Cape Breton Post, CBC.ca, The Halifax Chronicle-Herald

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