Watch Out Other TV News Outlets: CNN Wants To Trademark Its ‘Magic Wall’

By Alex Weprin 

CNN has long featured technological gadgetry in its programming, but none has been as successful as its “Magic Wall,” popularized by John King during the 2008 primaries. The multi-touch display has been so successful that essentially every other live TV news outlet–from ESPN to CNBC–followed in CNN’s footsteps and has one or two, and use them with regularity.

Now, however, it appears that the channel wants to make sure that the “Magic Wall” is for CNN use only. Earlier this month the channel applied for a trademark on the term “Magic Wall” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, according to filings obtained by TVNewser.

The filing is particularly ironic, as the name “Magic Wall” was originally a placeholder.


“We talked a bit about what to call it, the ‘Touch Wall,’  ‘White Board,’ and thinking back to the old Captain Kangaroo Show, the ‘Magic Chalkboard,’” Current TV president and former CNN DC bureau chief David Bohrman told us. “Me and Wolf [Blitzer] ended up giving up and calling it ‘Magic Wall,’ we decided it was just the easiest thing to do for now.”

Other networks can still have touchscreens, of course (Bohrman says Current just unpacked an 82-inch screen for Jennifer Granholm’s new show), they just can’t call them “Magic Walls” or else they risk facing the wrath of Time Warner lawyers.

While it may seem like an easy thing to do, your TVNewser editor has heard talent and executives at channels such as CNBC, MSNBC, MLB Network and Bloomberg refer to their touchscreens as “Magic Walls.”

“Touchscreen display” just doesn’t have the same je ne sais quoi.

For more on the “Magic Wall,” check out our talk with Perceptive Pixel founder Jeff Han at the 2008 NAB Show.