Court Finds Case On Trivia Not Worthy Of Pursuit

Posted: March 29, 1988

WASHINGTON — Today's trivia question: Whose books were the source of 3,976 facts contained in the popular and profitable board game Trivial Pursuit?

Answer: Fred L. Worth's.

Q. - What did Fred think his words were worth?

A. - $300 million.

Q. - How much did he get?

A. - Zilch.

The Supreme Court yesterday declined to hear his claim that the creators and distributors of Trivial Pursuit were guilty of copyright infringement for pirating trivia from his books without his permission.

That, in effect, upheld the dismissal of Worth's complaint by two courts in Worth's home state of California. Those courts had sided with the distributors of Trivial Pursuit, saying that facts can't be copyrighted.

The creators of Trivial Pursuit, Canadians Chris Haney and Scott Abbott, admitted they had cribbed facts from Worth's two-volume compendium, The Complete Unabridged Super Trivia Encyclopedia, among other books.

Worth conceded that his books had a "somewhat fanciful" title. Their value as an encyclopedic reference is debatable, he says. And the two volumes weren't complete and unabridged, either, because he has written a third volume.

Trivial Pursuit sometimes copped Worth's exact words. For example, Worth's book says Pablo Picasso was the "only living artist to have his work displayed in the Grand Gallery of the Louvre." A Trivial Pursuit card asks, ''Who was the only living artist to have his work displayed in the Grand Gallery of the Louvre?"

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