Monday, September 03, 2012

Penguin Attacks

Paperback novel pioneers Penguin™ books, currently owned by Pearson PLC, have filed a lawsuit against publication competitors Virago™ Press on charges of copyright infringement.


[Side Box]

Background: Where Did Penguin Waddle From?.

Penguin Books™ commenced publishing in 1938, using what they claim are "novel" techniques to augment the consumer's reading experience. At that time these reading techniques were described by the former Bodley Head™ managing editor, charismatic publishing entrepreneur John Allen, as "revolutionary, unique and [ahem] novel."

Allen had left Bodley Head™ shortly before setting up his first company, Albatross-Albatross!, following a dispute with their senior editors over his decision not to publish a controversial work by the legendary children's author, London born Enid Blyton. Allen was particularly concerned that her new novel Noddy™ Does Toyland(© The Estate of Enid Blyton) might precipitate legal action against Bodley Head. Readers of the Blyton typescript at the publishing house said the book was "racist", "sexist", "homoerotic" and that Noddy™ was "an unacceptable role-model for young men" due his tendency to cry when very upset.

Allen had recommended against publication. As a result Blyton abandoned her plans to publish with Bodley Head™, whom she later described as "stuffy, politically correct twats who wouldn't know a Gollie™ from a Stinkly™." She took her stilted and formulaic writing to Sampson Low and made a fucking fortune for them and herself over the years. Allen was soon given his marching orders thanks to his absent business acumen in this case.

Allen conceived of the idea of getting someone else to think of the something that became the Paperback in 1937. The result was a lightweight, rectangular, compliant reading device that would fit into the pocket of a consumer during periods of various activities which were not compatible with reading.

Famously, the story of where his neurons fired so profitably is this: He was waiting for a train in Vladivostok when a beautiful but distraught women in a dark coat threw herself under the oncoming engine. He immediately thought of the tragic climax of the novel Anna Karenina (© Penguin Books), by Russian gambler and criminal Fyodor Dostoyevski. He took pictures (© The Estate of John Allen, available for purchase in 12x10glossy prints from Penguin Prints, a division of Penguin Books [only compatible with a Penguin Paperback]) of the apparent suicide victim's bleeding remains with his Sampple iGalaxy™ as she lay dying, partially dismembered and horribly disfigured, on the tracks. He then "uploaded™" the images to FaceSpace's™ Pinstagram™ Kodaroid™ clone, DropCloud™. He wondering how interesting it would be to compare the scenes in the novel with the gruesome incident unfolding (as it were) in front of him. He wondered how the book might be made available where he was, without his having to go a library or a decent hard-cover bookstore which could be several thousand miles away in this Siberian wilderness. On his return the mangled remains of the women would no doubt be gone, or covered with a blanket, or eaten by wolves.

He MessSkyd™ his design and development team at Albatross-Albatross! to inform them that he had "shared™" the Pinstagram™ "folder™" with them, and asked them to develop something pretty quick that would make him a millionaire overnight. They produced what became known as the Paperback novel. Allen's publishing house was changed quickly to Penguin Books™ when the Albatross-Albatross! name was shot down in a private settlement with the family of English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, author of The Amazing Adventures of The Ancient Mariner (© the Estate of S.T. Coleridge) who had heard there was likely to be money involved.

Allen took all the kudos and street cred for the development of the Paperback and was universally acknowledged as a Genius™ in his press releases. Tragically, his design and development team disappeared mysteriously in a boating accident in Allen's backyard swimming pool.

Immediately upon appropriating the credit for the Paperback, he commissioned Mr Constance Garnet to make a new translation of every school-age children's nemesis (the novel Anna Karenina: see above). Allen's lawyer (another name in the development of Allen's career that is lost to history thanks to chlorinated water) pioneered the prototype of all writers' contracts now in use universally. These have the special clauses which allow translators and authors like Garnett to be tied down and waterboarded. Publishers such as Allen can then be ceded sole ownership of the Exclusive Rights Management, the ERM™ of the work, in this case a translation, and all profits after publication. Garnett would get a pittance, if anything at all, should he live or remain sane. He drowned penniless in mysterious circumstances in Allen's backyard swimming pool after translating several thousand more unreadable novels under contractual obligations to Pengiun Books™.

[End Sidebox]


The Penguin™ suit alleges that Virago™, by moving from the Women's Press™ niche in which they still profess to be their metier, into more general publishing in the Paperback form, had infringed its patents when they imitated what Penguin claim are the essence and implementation of their designs.

The logos of the two publishing giants currently in dispute.

Virago™ have copied the "trade form" of Penguin™, the essential look and feel of the Penguin™ reading experience, they claim. In particular, Penguin™ point to Virago's™ decision to produce a book with a soft paper cover of the size of the side pocket of a jacket, such as a gentleman in the 1930's might be wearing at a train station in, say, Vladisvostok.

Comparison of the form factor of an example of the Virago™ product (left) and that of a Penguin™ Paperback (right). Note that the Virago™ book is written by philosopher and essayist W.G Sebald, a man. The Penguin™ book has been penned by female historian Ruth Harris.

Penguin™ say that their "distinctive" rectangular shape has been implemented into the Virago product, as have the sharp, 90o corners of the Paperback. Penguin™ insist that now Virago™ are publishing Paperbacks written by men it could make it difficult for readers to differentiate between the two publishers. Penguin's™ income could be harmed as a result of diminshed sales if readers inadvertantly choose the Virago product.

Penguin™ had previously overlooked design infringements by Virago™ on the grounds of sympathy with the suffragette movement, notably by Allen's wife, [the ridiculously named] Lettice Lucy Orr. [I mean, salad. For pity's sake - Lettice Orr what? Cabbage?]

Penguin™ point to particular features of the Virago™ product that directly infringe on the patents held by Penguin™. They cite the fingertip control over the method of manipulation or turning™ of individual pages, or even groups of pages, as readers follow the writer's words, sentences and paragraphs sequentially from one side of a page to its verso, specifically turning™ it to the left to follow text. They point out the continuance of the writing to the next leaf, the one on the right side of the open book.

Finally, they decry Virago™'s "blatant theft" of the Penguin™'s ability to use a © Bookmark.

Turning™ pages and the use of a Bookmark™ [provided to E@L by the kind people at The Excelsior hotel in Hong Kong]

This latter innovation allows the reader, often using a third-party device - which may have been provided by a book-seller or a progressive and expensive hotel chain - to define the point at which she or he has reached before closing the book in order to get on with life. The reader can continue his or her reading pursuits at a later time using the Bookmark™ to determine the correct page. After using the Bookmark™ in this manner, they might then either exit the toilet area with the Paperback in their jacket pocket or leave the volume on the wash-basin edge for further perusal in the future, a typical time being when the contents of his or her bowel move into an exposition of digestion with conflict of bacteria and the peristaltic moving action in the intestines leading inexorably to an expulsory climax, then a falling action and eventual denouement, with either a satisfactory or an unsatisfactroy ending, a.k.a. closure, and often leaving the possibility of a sequel.


In his The Pocket Billionaire, the unauthorised biography of the late Allen, ghost writer Woody Allen [no relation] reported the allegedly innovative and style-making founder of Penguin™ as saying he will go "V2™" on rival publishers. "They won't know what screaming had come across the sky and hit them." Allen laughed hysterically, according to Allen.

He single out the ladies of Virago™ for special treatment because of what he considered their "traitorous behaviour" in publishing non-female authors. "I'll beat Virago™ like a red-haired step-daughter," he is quoted as screaming in a board meeting. "This is our technology and male authors are OUR meteor, metier, whatthefuckever, and we will screw those bitches over and over until they agree to desist in the publication of products which are very similar to our own in my fucking opinion!"


Interestingly, Virago™ have launched a counter-suit against Penguin™ for publishing works by female authors, a defence that is sure to raise the hackles of Penguin™'s lawyers.

Virago™ maintain that if such a lawsuit as Penguin™'s were to succeed it could severley restrict competition and staunch further innovation in the Paperback development, outcomes that could damage the industry in unforesable ways.

They also claim that the page-turning technology was in existance long before Allen and Penguin™ had reintroduced it, and have at least two pieces of evidence to support that claim.

Fistly, they cite the Rapid Celluloid Transmission or RCT™ (a.k.a. Fillum) in which art-house director Sir Stamford Raffles showed a character turning™ pages of what appeared to be a small reading device in his groundbreaking 1914 science-fiction epic, 1931, A Moon Odyssey (©, Lee Kwan Yew). Interestingly, this RTC™ classic was not seen in the Feelies™ until several years after its initially proclaimed release date of 1912.

This delay was precipitated by a lawsuit filed by that Frenchie artiste, Georges Méliès who claimed that the concept in his earlier RCT™ of Le Voyage dans la Lune (© IMDB™) had being illegaly appropriated, in effect mashed, by Raffles. Raffles in turned argued that his work was an "'omaaaarge," (spoken in an outrageous French accent) but no legal ruling was ever made on this form of imitation as the matter was settled out of court when Georges Méliès mysteriously drowned in a boating accident in Raffles' backyard pool in Vladivostok the following year.

Virago™ also point to a long forgotten presentation of a similar case in the International Court Of Taking Forever To Come To A Fucking Conclusion in Den Hague. They found in the TeslaNet™ Encylowiki™ records of a publishing dispute dating from the early 17th century. At that time Robert Barker, The King's Printer and member of The Church Of England™, publishers of the King James Bible (not the Vulgate which is copyright to one hermit, a certain St Jerome), sued the independant Musselman publishers Al-Jazeera™ for copyright infringement with their production of a printed version of the the Tartar holy book, The Q'uran. That case was dismissed by the ICOTFTCTAFC on what Barker called "a technicality", as the Ottoman Empire™'s printed publication was designed to be read from right to left, the oposite of Barker's left to right technology.

The judge of the case, Pope™ Richard Dawkins, said this type of dispute was harmful to young children and animals. He instructed the participants and their followers to accept the blatant (to him at least) fact, or theory™, that there is no* such thing as god [he used a small 'g'], or at least any deity that could be shown scientifically to be manifest in this world.

Therefore, he had said, these or any other gods of whatever denomination might as well not exist anyway, if they/he/she/it was unable or unwilling do anything useful such as alleviate suffering and disease. All this "sectarian publishing and violence shit..." would "...just go away - poof - if people woke up to reason and smelled this bloody strong Turkish coffee. Stop writing this amazingly impossible bullshit in the first place, then you won't have to publish it, and I won't have to get involved in sorting out the mess," he said in his summation, the records show.


In his turn, a spokeman for Penguin™ said Virago's claim was "both ludicrous and dubious" because entries in EnycloWiki™ can be edited by the members public for a small fee. He explained that a search of the records of transactions of PayPal™ could arranged. PayPal™ is the Telsanet™'s only online bank after the financial giant sued "every fucker" they could find, even the company which pioneered online payment, Adult Video Network™. The spokesman said the this might demonstrate the complicity of Virago in a potential fraud with intenttion to deceive.

Paypal™ however have pointed out that their records are "secure and confidential" and that it would take "a considerable amount of cash and lots of blow jobs" for them to hand over their customers' private records.


But a newcomer to the publishing world could win out here, no matter what the result of the contoversial Penguin™/Virago™ suit. Online book supplier Amazon™ are on the verge of launching a product that circumvents all the issues raised by both Penguin™ and Virago™. The Kindle™ is an electronic book reader which uses a remote image of words in the author's mind. These can be transmitted wirelessly (TeleGnosis, pat pending) through the ether to the retina, where the encoded concept of the story is captured. This can then be directly received in the appropriate cortex of the brain and the plot and characters extracted and the plot followed and enjoyed (presumably), even when the consumer is engaged in other activities, such a lubricious sex. Amazon™'s scientists warn that certain spastics and stroked out old folks with particular forms of brain jellification might not be able to use their device properly. Otherwise Amazon™ expect excellent reception™ of their product by the early up-takers, in particular trendy Starbucks™ light soy-latte drinking wankers and hipsters™.

Amazon™ dismiss/ignore the claims by recently justified inventor of both the TelsaNet™ itself and its method of transmission, the Radio™.

Nikola Tesla pointed out most vehemently that he had described the essential principles of such a technique, identical to this TeleGnosis (pat pending) "years fucking ago" in his compendium of experiments I Am Not A Nutter, But... (© Penguin Books) and that Amazon™ had stolen them to create the Kindle™.

Nikola Tesla, as himself, in the recent biopic What Does This Button Do?"

"Amazon™," he said in an interview for Cosmopolitan™, "are like that cock-sucker Marconi. Thieving my credit bastards. A bunch of arrogant shupaks who can popusis mi kurac krasni! Those fucking Limey Book Depository™ bastards used to be cheaper and world-wide ship for free, until pricks at Amazon™ bought DHL™ and jebem ce zivo i mrtvo overnight. Don't even start on me the shit-eater Thomas I-Invented-This Edison. Biggest fucking fake since John Allen."


Your intrepid reporter and signatory to the Creative Commons Licence™,



"Samsung and Apple have been at war through the courts since April 2011, when Apple filed a suit in the US alleging that a number of Samsung smartphones and tablets used some of its patented technologies – such as the "rubber band" effect when scrolling a long list of items – and mimicked its "trade dress", the general cosmetic appearance of its iPhone and iPad, in a way that could confuse potential customers."

You have no idea how many times I typed Viagra instead of Virago in writing this self-indulgent drivel. I chose Virago's The Rings Of Saturn for no reason beyond the fact that it is the only paperback from a relatively major publisher that I have with me.

* would you believe in this? I had left the word 'no' out of this sentence for the last two days.


Unknown said...

I gave up. Did that blog post go anywhere worth going?
If so can you just put a hyperlink to the interesting bit.
PS I am not a robot.

expat@large said...

YOU gave up! I committed suicide three times, that's how boring writing it was! There was a chuckle-worthy moment. Too bad you missed it. It was about you.

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