Monday, May 22, 2006

Anecdotal Evidence or Urban Legend?

Dutch author Henk Schulte Nordholt wrote the book De Chinacode ontcijferd, which means The China Code Deciphered, about the rise of China. I flash read this title, let's say inspired by the Da Vinci Code, to see if anything was mentioned about intellectual property in China. I found an anecdote. However, without any real names, dates or more specific facts. I'll try to paraphrase it anyway:

In the mid nineties, a Dutch producer of devices went to an exhibition in Beijing. One of the panels of the apperatus was bend during voyage to the exhibition. It could not be fixed, so the producer exhibited the device like that. The next year at the exhibition the Dutch producer found out that a competitor was showing an exact copy of his device, including the bend panel. When asked by the Dutch producer why one of the panels was bend the competitor could not explain its function and said that it's just the state of the art.

This anecdote may well be true, but if you cannot mention the facts it might as well be an urban legend. Missed opportunity for Schulte Nordholt. On the other hand it could serve as an example that is would not hurt to insert some errors in exhibition models and blue prints.

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