An explicit gaffed deck meant to insult hecklers was pulled suddenly from Ellusionist’s website after the retailer received information regarding “potential independent creation concerns”, according to an open letter sent out via Facebook and email by marketing head Geraint Clarke.
The deck, which was released on January 23, 2018 and pulled a day later, was developed by creative team member Lloyd Barnes based on a story Daniel Madison told him about a magician who pulled a naughty card from a deck to get back at a heckler and then top-changed it back to a regular card. According to the letter, Barnes had attempted to source a proper credit for the trick, but wasn’t able to, and Ellusionist went ahead with production.
Shortly after its release, information came to Ellusionist’s attention that the trick had been a regular part of illusionist Harrison Greenbaum’s private routine for “around a decade”. Greenbaum got in touch with CEO Brad Christian, sent over videos proving that he had invented the trick before Ellusionist’s decision to produce it.
While Ellusionist may have been able to defend any potential copyright claims in court due to independent creation (a copyright clause that allows two products of similar design to exist as long as both products were created independently of each other), the decision was made to pull the trick from the store as Clarke states that “Ellusionist as a company isn’t in the business of copying effects from creators and is always happy to rectify any of these issues if they arise”.
The trick has since been barred from future sale (the link for the trick redirects to a 404 error on Ellusionist.com), though according to a post on The Magic Cafe Forums, it’s possible a few decks may have shipped before being pulled.
The full Facebook post has been embedded below: