Sunday, August 13, 2006

Harvard Business Review article: Plagiarize with Pride

In an earlier post on IPBiz, the story of how the Harvard Business School Press balked at the captioning of a chapter in Hardball advocating plagiarism was recounted.

One notes that the Harvard Business Review was not so timid. At page 68 in the April 2004 issue of HBR, one has in the article that became the basis for Hardball:

Plagiarize with pride.

Softball competitors like to think that their bright ideas are sacred. But hardball players know better. They're willing to steal any good idea they say --as long as it isn't nailed down by a robust patent -- and use it for themselves. Ray Kroc didn't invent McDonald's; he took the idea from brothers Dick and Maurice McDonald when he bought their small chain of burger joints. Home Depot founders Arthur Blank and Bernie Marcus didn't invent the first warehouse-outlet hardware chain; they got the "big box" concept from their earlier employer, Handy Dan Home Improvement.

In passing, plagiarism is generally considered to involve the representation of someone else's work as one's own. For example, if a student copied lines from Shakespeare and submitted it as his/her own work, that would be plagiarism. However, as illustrated by the Supreme Court Dastar case, it would not violate copyright law (Shakespeare is in the public domain) and it would not violate federal trademark law (the issue presented in Dastar was one group of film makers copying (public domain) film and placing their own name on it as the creators; the Supreme Court said that was all right under trademark law). Under patent law or copyright law, it is not all right to use protected material, EVEN IF proper credit is given (patent law and copyright law are NOT directed to plagiarism per se, tho one can violate IP law and plagiarize at the same time.)

The April 2004 HBR article also had the text:

Some people might recoil when competitors or the media call them copycats. Hardball players couldn't care less. They know that if Steve Jobs had ignored the graphical user interfce he saw at Xerox PARC, Apple Computer would never have been born. If Kiichiro Toyoda hadn't learned the forerunner of just-in-time techniques for Ford, Toyota wouldn't have surpassed rival Nissan in the 1950's and later become such a formidable challenger to U.S. automakers.

This is a far different world from the plagiarism issues found at Ohio University, wherein academic officials reacted strongly to non-attributed remarks found in the background section of Masters theses in the mechanical engineering department. It's also a far different world from the Laurence Tribe matter, wherein the Harvard Law School did care that the media labeled Tribe a plagiarist.

[IPBiz post 1865]


Post a Comment

<< Home