Whose Patent is it, Anyway?

6 Mar ’05

The NYT has a story on intellectual property theft in China.  The piece focuses on the dispute between Hitachi and GS Magic Stor over the design of the 1" hard drive used in the iPod.  Money quotes:

For Western companies competing with China as well as those doing business here, the issue goes well beyond the fate of one obscure company or of a single technology, however valuable. In one sector after another, companies warn that China’s swift industrial rise is being greased by brazen and increasingly sophisticated theft of intellectual property.

"Until recently, when China began putting intellectual property laws in place, for the past 40 years, all patents were owned by the government, and could be shared by any company that was willing to use them," said Paul Gao, a Shanghai-based expert on consumer electronics and automotives at McKinsey & Company. "The Chinese government actually encouraged this, and that has left a deep impression on companies that intellectual property is there for anyone to use it."

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