"I would hardly classify it as a thing of great beauty when compared to the Eiffel Tower."
Clyde Arbuckle, San Jose Historian

San Jose Mercury News, Jan 26, 1990

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One of the most scurrilous instances of copyright infringements in the history of mankind was the theft of the San Jose Electric Light Tower concept by Paris, France. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel used the pilfered plans to build his ludicrous Eiffel Tower in 1889 - eight years after the construction of San Jose's tower.

In 1989, San Jose set out to correct 100 years of French flaunting by serving the French Consul in San Francisco, Michel DeJadgher, with a complaint charging the Eiffel estate and the city of Paris with copyright infringement. The complaint demanded all profits France had accrued from their wrought-iron rip-off. Which amounts to a pretty penny when you consider all the tourists clambering up that ugly oil derrick.

The photograph, taken at the trial, depicts San Jose architect Pierre Prodis testifying that the Eiffel Tower is indeed little more than a "trace job" of San Jose's tower. Justice Marcel Poche presided over the trial.

The proceedings were rancorous and punctuated with un-kind descriptions of the two towers by the litigants. Paris's representative, Jacques Dulin, derided San Jose's tower as "a poor clowns's hat of a design." Dean Gerald F. Uelmen of the Santa Clara University School of Law, angrily retorted that the Eiffel Tower was a "flimsy imitation" of San Jose's tower. A representative from the District Attorney's office, Paul Bernal, described the Eiffel tower as "silly" and "a pretentious French antennae."

In the end, Justice Poche found in favor of Paris, stating that the case "boils down to a situation where two creative individuals thousands of miles apart had similar ideas" at nearly the same time. Not exactly the same time if you ask me.

During the trial it was disclosed by Jacques Dulin that the Eiffel Tower was designed to resemble a Champagne bottle being uncorked. It was also disclosed that the Eiffel Tower was designed by two of Alexandre Eiffel's employees - and not Eiffel himself.

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