Originally Posted by PhilBoogie
Originally Posted by Marvin
Originally Posted by Taniwha
Of course, when samsung steals its bad. When apple steals then the owner is bad. We know that one.
They aren't in the same category.
Or the same culture. In Korea it supposedly is flattering if your products are being copied. Doesn't matter if it technically is stolen.
I dunno. I've no experience with Korean culture. But it seems plausible to me anyway.
Actually I have argued elsewhere on AI that "copying" is a good thing. Now I am a research scientist by training, and the way I see it, the overwhelming bulk of human progress through the ages is based on copying of ideas, spreading the word, and building on those. It's only recently that the term "Intellectual Property" has been "invented" at all. I can't put a date on it, but I would hazard a guess that the concept of "IP" is less than 50 years old.
If you think about it at all, that's how you learn. ... that's how babies learn, that's how an enormous amount of things get developed at all. In science for example, most of the Nobel Prize laureates are quick to point out that they got to where they did by "standing on the shoulders of giants."
So from a fundamental philosophical perspective, copying is not only a good thing, its essential to progress.
You can find examples everywhere. Sport, entertainment, ... really all over.
Now, I work in the generics pharma industry. We make our living by "copying" patented drugs and putting them on the market at a fraction of the price that "big pharma" does. We make them available to people who could otherwise not afford them. Now because of the (completely justifiable) demands of society that drugs should be safe, effective and of high manufacturing quality, these generics have to go into the development and approval process YEARS before the patents expire, so that they can be in the starting blocks on the day a patent expires. Now I would argue that generics are damned important and good for society in general. And of course, the patent-holders use every trick in the lawyers arsenal to block, delay, prevent, the onslaught of generics in "their" market segment. Patent litigation is "daily business" in the generics field. In fact our founder (it is a private company) used to say that if a week goes by without us getting sued, then we're not doing our job properly.
The point I'm trying to make is that in some situations, copying, even "theft", is actually absolutely OK ... or would you be prepared to say "NO", generics drugs are "theft" of ideas and should be banned forever, leaving "big pharma" free to charge what they like. And don't get me on to the topic of how prices are fixed for new products in the pharma field. I have first hand information and, quite honestly, it makes me go ballistic to hear some of the arguments (ALWAYS coming from the US by the way) for astronomical, completely unaffordable prices for new drugs that we KNOW are not that good. Its really appalling.
So I think it's just plain silly to say that "copying" is somehow morally and ethically wrong per se. The opposite is in fact true.
Getting on to patents: Here things get a little more difficult. One of the BIG differences between the US and the EU with respect to patents is that ALL kinds of patents in the US are less stringently scrutinized by the USPTO than they should be. There are a hell of a lot of really bad patents out there that should never have been issued in the first place. Now ONLY companies with big pockets can fight a patent battle in the courts. In the US the costs of litigation are prohibitive for small companies, startups etc. So many of them fall victims to the patent trolls. It makes economic sense for a small company to pay up $1 million rather than fight a patent battle through to the last instance .. EVEN IF YOU ARE 100% sure you should win. Look what happened in the Apple / Samsung $1Billion dollar scrap. It turned out that the jury made insane mistakes, that relevant evidence on prior art was blocked time and time again on trivial technicalities ... and so on. That offends my sense of justice. Seriously. If a plaintif can't win straight out, with honest and exhaustive deliberation of the facts and with correctly applied legal standards in the jury ... then the system is delivering a "product" that has no right to be labelled as "just".
But there may be good arguments that high quality technical patents deserve some protection. This doesn't, in my view, apply to software patents AT ALL. This is a controversial subject, but that's my take on it. (incidentally there is an interesting debate on software patents on Groklaw right now. Go there if you are interested in this.)
But leaving SW patents out for the moment. Take a technical patent like capacitative touchscreens. (NO, not an Apple invention. Seems that it came from CERN in Geneva). Once the initial invention has been made (and according to the law, a patent should provide sufficient detail that a person skilled in the area should be able to build whatever the patent describes, which is almost NEVER the case these days. Bless the f'ing lawyers.). Do you really think that small incremental improvements on the first patent should receive the SAME protection as the initial patent itself ?. Take the theoretical case of a touchscreen patent for a device 1cm thick and a resolution of 1000x1000. Is a resolution of 1050x1050 worthy of protection ? Or a thickness of 0.9 cm ?? and if yes, where is the cutoff ?
Now I don't want to get bogged down in silly arguments. These are just examples that suggest that the way patents of all kinds work at the moment, is actually a legally devised perversion of the original concept of what a patent is, how it should be scrutinized, and what it's purpose is. And to give you a hint: the purpose is NOT to block progress, but to promote progress. The purpose is NOT to allow "patent ambush", but to prevent it. the list goes on.
So, copying is a good thing :-)