How a ‘Columbo’ response prompted a $300 million trivial suit lawsuit
The character was popular enough to earn a spot among the many trivia questions in the world-famous board game, Trivial Pursuit. Only it was this addition that had the creators of Trivial Pursuit slapped with a lawsuit faster than you can say, “What’s Columbo’s first name?” You see, that was the real question on one of their trivia cards, the answer being “Phillip”, of course. Only wrong! Columbo didn’t have a first name, and it turned out that the game’s creators picked up this incorrect fact from a book called “Super Trivia” compiled by a certain Fred L. Worth… who was now suing them for 300 millions of dollars.
Worth was a smart guy and knew he couldn’t protect a book full of random facts, so he added a bunch of incorrect codes among them like a secret code. When he saw that the Trivial Pursuit cards contained many of the same typos, intentional errors, and other codes he had added to his compilation, he knew exactly what they had done.
Unfortunately for Worth, he didn’t go far with the lawsuit, whereas Trivial Pursuit raised facts from multiple sources and not just “Super Trivia”. The judge found that the actions of the composers of Trivial Pursuit were more “research” and less “plagiarism” and then threw the case.
To this day, many fans of the show and quizzes believe that Columbo’s name is, in fact, Phillip, even though they can’t agree where they learned it from, and even if it looks like his name might actually be “Franc.”
Zanandi is lit Twitter.
Top image: NBCUniversal Television Distribution