On the second day of the high court trial into whether the central theme of the 2003 bestseller, by Dan Brown, had been plagiarised from a 1982 book about the holy grail, Mr Justice Peter Smith was told ideas contained in non-fiction work could not be protected under law.
John Baldwin QC, representing The Da Vinci Code's publishers, Random House, added that themes similar in both books were known to Mr Brown before he had read Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh's earlier work, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (HBHG).
In other words, the "idea" behind the Da Vinci Code is both "historic" and "generic"...
There is a second potential action - potential only because the "original" writer has not the resources to sue a major Hollywood studio...
A second New Zealand author is staking his claim to the idea behind another blockbuster.
Christchurch-based author Gavin Bishop has said the makers of the film Mr and Mrs Smith have stolen his story idea, The Christchurch Press reported.
The children's author said the film's plot was very similar to a book he wrote for schools in 1997 titled The Secret Lives of Mr and Mrs Smith.
He said he planned to sue the makers of the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie movie.
However, while in Mr Bishop's book the husband and wife are spies, in the celluloid version they are assassins.
He told the Press the similarities were "too close to be accidental".
Now this is slightly different in cause - the idea is fictitious, but has the "rewriting" been sufficient (changing chararcters from spies to assassins) to warrant consideration as a "new" writing.
So, the former will be interesting to see just what is decided. Where does the intellectual property of an idea start, where do historic, religious and cultural ideas stop being generic...
The latter, it is a shame that it is unlikely to be heard. It has the potential to define just how far a rewrite of an idea must be in order to constitute separation from the original idea. Is it enough to change spies to assassins?
In the meantime, I think that I might just go spend some time sharpening my knowledge of Amerindian myth and fable - there has got to be some really good yarns in there. A few hours research should do the trick...