Geek Trivia

Map Makers Include What Device To Identify Their Maps In Lawsuits?

Microtext in the Compass Rose
Ultraviolet Ink
Paper Towns
Swingline Introduced a New Product As The Result Of What Movie?

Answer: Paper Towns

Mapmakers have long sought to protect their intellectual property against infringement, but doing so is remarkably difficult, as maps chart what is really there. How then do you prove that another map maker stole your map when they can turn around and say “Well of course New York City is on the map, I didn’t steal the Big Apple from you!”

The trick, long employed by mapmakers, is to insert something that doesn’t exist onto the map. Typically, this something takes the form of a small town that exists only on paper: a paper town. Then, if a company suspects someone of lifting their work, they can point to the fake town as evidence that the work was copied.

The most famous paper town around is Agloe, New York. The fake town is famous on two accounts. First, for a period of time it was upgraded in status from a paper town to a real town after a general store found on its purported location named itself the Agloe General Store (the fact that there was nothing else in the town was of little concern to nearby officials who simply considered that the general store must be what was left of the town they found on their maps). Later, novelist John Green immortalized Agloe, New York by bringing it to life in his appropriately titled novel Paper Towns.

In addition to paper towns, map makers also employ other fictitious entries like phantom streets, lakes, and geographic features that are remote or otherwise not easily observed (other than referencing the map with the fictitious entry).