Cracking Code In 'Da Vinci' Ruling

The British judge who presided over the Da Vinci Code trial has put a code of his own into his judgment and said he would "probably" confirm it to the person who breaks it.

Since Judge Peter Smith delivered his judgment in the case on April 7, clearing author Dan Brown of charges of copyright violation, lawyers in London and New York have begun noticing odd italicizations in the 71-page document.

In the weeks afterward, would-be code-breakers got to work on deciphering the judge's code.

"I can't discuss the judgment," Smith said Wednesday in a brief conversation with The Associated Press, "but I don't see why a judgment should not be a matter of fun."

Italics are placed in strange spots: The first is found in paragraph one of the 360-paragraph document. The letter "S" in the word claimants is italicized.

In the next graph, claimant is spelled "claiMant," and so on.

The italicized letters in the first seven paragraphs spell out "Smithy code," playing on the judge's name.

View the ruling, and take a crack at breaking the code yourself, by clicking here.

Lawyer Dan Tench, with the London firm Olswang, said he noticed the code when he spotted the striking italicized script in an online copy of the judgment.

"To encrypt a message in this manner, in a High Court judgment no less? It's out there," Tench said. "I think he was getting into the spirit of the thing. It doesn't take away from the validity of the judgment. He was just having a bit of fun."

"I should think it's pretty sophisticated," Andrew Sinclair, Historian of the Knights Templar, remarked to CBS News Correspondent Richard Roth about the code. "Any judge with a sense of humor and a very clever man, which Peter Smith is, is going to do pretty well."

Smith was arguably the highlight of the trial, with his sharp questions and witty observations making the sometimes dry testimony more lively.