World-class illusionist performances are one of the biggest draws to Las Vegas hotels and casinos. Inherent in the value of these shows is the mystery behind the any given trick, which makes it imperative for magicians to maintain their performance methods as intellectual property. To protect against the theft of trade secrets, many illusionists require their employees to sign confidentiality agreements, which are vigorously litigated if it is suspected that these workers have leaked information about the performer’s tricks.
Via his business entities, Las Vegas illusionist David Copperfield has sued six stagehands, alleging that they revealed trade secrets and breached their contracts. A little over one month after this, seven stagehands filed a suit against the magician, claiming that the Copperfield committed federal wage abuse.
Attorneys from both sides offered comments on the situation. One member of Copperfield’s legal team claims that the employees’ suit is being used to distract from the intellectual property dispute. An attorney representing some of the stagehands, on the other hand, alleges that the magician’s suit was a preemptive strike against his clients, intended to discourage them from litigating their wage complaint.
Copperfield’s suit was filed in January, the stagehands’ in February. The parties are currently attempting to settle the case, but did not offer any specifics on that issue. Reports do not speculate on the possible outcomes of these talks.
For entertainers whose performance value is centered on the protection of their intellectual property, any confidentiality agreement dispute or breach of contract issue must be taken seriously. Those who are facing such legal issues may want to speak with an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that the problem is addressed quickly.
Source: Las Vegas Sun, “Settlement talks in lawsuits between magician David Copperfield, stagehands,” Ken Ritter, Apr. 4, 2014.