So, I created this routine almost 20 years ago. I've been performing it since then off and on. I say off and on because since about 2009 I've only performed it on maybe 4 occasions. As some may remember (but likely don't) my wife at the time had terminal cancer and eventually died from the disease in 2010. I pretty much left my old life behind in the aftermath. As a result of all this going on, I was unaware of many things in the magic world such as the deaths of performers and teachers and the advancement of some who were still beginners when I last saw them. The possible purloining of my routine is the biggest thing I missed that directly affects me though. It was even successfully marketed and sold to others. I am just now returning to the world of magic, but have continued to have an interest in watching performances when I get the opportunity. Penn & Teller's Fool Us is a wonderful chance for just that. I have no TV or cable service so I've been watching clips here and there on Youtube.
Well, recently I saw my own routine being performed on Fool Us. It did not fool P&T (I wonder how much of that might actually be because Teller was tipped to my method many years ago when I was talking to him about my routine at a convention in Vegas. I say I wonder because Teller specifically mentioned my method to Penn as his guess.), but it was still on the show. I'm not really sure how to feel about this. Part of me is impressed, but the rest of me is quite upset.
I'm partly impressed because the performer actually might have improved the routine a little by changing the methodology very slightly. The basic routine however is still the same (actually not quite as good as mine despite the improvement but that's because of something else, not what was changed) and so similar that if other people were to see them performed they would say it's the same routine. Granted, the method is slightly different, but it's not so different that the effect is changed. In fact the effect is the same. The change is cosmetic to the routine itself, and some could say it's not even a necessary one. It's the difference between using a DB to effect a color change vs sleight of hand. The effect to the audience is the same. It's not the method that bothers me, it's everything else. It's the fact that the entire routine was performed up there on the stage in front of a live audience and it was my routine. It was my trick. I was so proud of it I performed it at a large convention over a decade ago in an attendees' show and also because I wanted to lay claim to the routine in case I was actually able to market it. From what I was told, and from my own memory, the TV performer was in attendance at that convention and would have likely seen the attendees' show.
Prior to me performing this, I had come across similar routines, BUT none that used my methodology (not even close) and not a single one was performed with the props I used. And I did a LOT of research on this routine. MONTHS of it. I worked HARD on working that thing out, working out the kinks in the routine (and there were more worked out after the convention performance that I did NOT see in the Fool Us performance), working out the exact method, practicing the moves over and over, getting the props made (which were beautifully done), etc. Having never come across anyone else doing anything like this in all that I could find in print, I find it highly unlikely that two people would come up with the same routine, effect, AND props completely independently. It'd be like finding two performers who were using a Dove Pan before Dove Pans were ever marketed or even written about. My method is not one that was found in a magic book or magazine. It literally came to me at a friend's house with a sudden flash of genius while we were having a jam session. While it wasn't something earth shattering, and quite a few professionals picked it out very quickly, I have found no one that used my method for this type of routine, with the particular props I used. In fact, I found no one using my methodology at all in ANY writings or other items. And here's someone using exactly that with my own routine on a national television program.
Like I said, I really don't know how to feel. I'm sorry for being so vague. I really trying not to start a war, hence the reason I haven't named names, but this is quite upsetting. So I've posted this in the Ethics section. What would you do?
Btw, I remember when the effect was marketed, and I believe I did reach out to the creator, but to my recollection he did not respond well (if at all) and did not engage me in a discussion on the effect. Also, I had far more important things on my plate with my wife being ill than to try to have a discussion with someone about marketed effects and similarities (because that's all it was in my mind at that time was similarities). It was not until Fool Us that I had ever seen the routine performed by him. Again, what would you do?