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Snippets of IP theft close to home

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Martial extended the word for slave theft, plagium, to cover literary theft and was in turn plagiarized by others:

Plagiarism was so common in the churches by the time of King James that he had to order that at least one sermon a month be original. When, eventually, the practice was officially condemned, the practitioners merely aggravated the sin with an alloy of hypocrisy

Plagiarism remains with us in all disciplines; what was once a collegially understood, if annoying, appropriation has now taken on a fully fledged autonomous claim of original ownership. Kierkegaard has taken the next step in proclaiming "an entirely new art form: 'Plagiography' (and, for those who cannot do but merely desire to preach, its sister-muse, the detective science of 'Plagiology')."

The commercial world is always on the edge of plagiarism in its quest for new product:

Intellectual property is sacrosanct, but only to a certain degree [as] most car manufacturers would likely argue that the unique appearance of their car, such as the shape of the grille, is significant, and so if someone copies it that can become an issue of "trade dress" infringement, because the appearance of the product is something protected by trademark. "Generally, you can’t win unless the consumer is confused by what they see, so if you recognize a car is a Lexus and think it looks like a Mercedes, generally that’s not enough."

Part of the purpose of this note is to document the outright plagiarism of an article on mine so that the party may be identified and hopefully mend its ways. It does not rise to the level of 10 Downing Street plagerizing the work of Ibrahim al-Marashi on Iraqi security services in its Iraq - Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation, but it annoys me that they made not the slightest effort to change the text block while going on to offer a workshop that would purport to implement my intent.

That the firm is UK based and my US article is aging in web terms, 1997, are typical in cases of plagiarism where the plagiarist presumes that time and distance will make none the wiser. While I take the opportunity to whack the miscreant, I would like to take the opportunity to bring forward an idea originally floated by Michael Schrage, now at the MIT Media Lab's E-Markets Initiative, that of making "a service-flavored product or a product-spiced service" which he called serducts and provices.

Schrage got quite a lot of press at the time on the useful idea that you were in trouble if you thought that you were solely in the product or the service business, and conversely, that you could make new and niche products at low cost and relatively rapid turnaround times. I used the process in adapting US goods and services to Asian markets. It seemed that serduct had longer legs than provice, but then both began to drop out of currency but they shouldn't. I recommend commercial readers to look to his original 1996 article.

I mentioned the serduct in a 1997 Competitive Advantage article, The fall and rise of service in the 20th Century in this section:

"Serduct" - the merger of service + product

Buyers view their purchase event through one of three lenses:

  • Purchase as best price
  • Purchase as service
  • Purchase as theater

Service plays an essential role in all three purchases.

In purchase as best price, the service component must be extremely efficient and nearly invisible. In purchase as service, the care and pampering of the buyer is the defining component of the "product" because the buyer could have purchased it elsewhere for less but opted for the intangibles of service. In purchase as theater, the service component expands to include the overall event and the environment of the sale. The story that the buyer will tell, and retell, to others about the purchase becomes an integral part of the product.

Transcending the transaction - moving beyond the individual purchase

Most traditional businesses require some 50 to 60% repeat buyers to sufficiently lower the cost of sale for new buyers. If the percentage of new buyers rises significantly above 40 to 50%, the firm will suffer for operating cash and generally will see sales revenue stretch unacceptably beyond forecast.

Most firms find themselves in a Catch-22 position as they've neither the money nor the processes to build sufficient new sales by traditional means. Winning firms are breaking the mold by forming a relationship with their customers - a relationship that costs more in the short term but delivers long-term buyers that influence other potential buyers in their circle of acquaintances.

The essential element is building an inalienable trust between the buyer and seller. This trust can be built with a variety of tools, but some essentials emerge:

  • Give the buyer a pleasant and trusting experience.
  • Institutionalize a personal "culture of passion" among employees.
  • Get far in front of the purchase and well after it. Develop birth to grave buyers.
  • Put aside the traditional, adversarial relationship for a win-win.
  • Minimize employee turnover (and consequential training).
  • Create measurement standards and reasonable accountability.

This trusting bond created between buyer and seller permits seller to extend his/her franchise to a family of services and products for their customers.

Here is Vision 3000 & Associates' "Serduct" - the merger of service + product:

Buyers view their purchase event through one of three lenses:

  • Purchase as best price
  • Purchase as service
  • Purchase as theater

Service plays an essential role in all three purchases.
In purchase as best price, the service component must be extremely efficient and nearly invisible. In purchase as service, the care and pampering of the buyer is the defining component of the "product" because the buyer could have purchased it elsewhere for less but opted for the intangibles of service. In purchase as theater, the service component expands to include the overall event and the environment of the sale. The story that the buyer will tell, and retell, to others about the purchase becomes an integral part of the product.

Transcending the transaction - moving beyond the individual purchase
Most traditional businesses require some 50 to 60% repeat buyers to sufficiently lower the cost of sale for new buyers. If the percentage of new buyers rises significantly above 40 to 50%, the firm will suffer for operating cash and generally will see sales revenue stretch unacceptably beyond forecast.
Most firms find themselves in a Catch-22 position, as they've neither the money nor the processes to build sufficient new sales by traditional means. Winning firms are breaking the mold by forming a relationship with their customers - a relationship that costs more in the short term but delivers long-term buyers that influence other potential buyers in their circle of acquaintances.

The essential element is building an inalienable trust between the buyer and seller. This trust can be built with a variety of tools, but some essentials emerge:

  • Give the buyer a pleasant and trusting experience.
  • Institutionalize a personal "culture of passion" among employees.
  •  Get far in front of the purchase and well after it. Develop birth to grave buyers.
  • Put aside the traditional, adversarial relationship for a win-win.
  • Minimize employee turnover (and consequential training).
  • Create measurement standards and reasonable accountability.

Short of a few bits of clumsy punctuation, there is not the slightest chance of accident, of denial of provenance. The buggers didn't even change the "+" sign. 10 Downing Street did better than that. Vision 3000's impact of me was much the same as that of the UK dossier on Iraq. Despite whatever skills that they might otherwise have, it called into question their honesty, veracity and intelligence overall.

Are copycat cars a sincere form of flattery?
Automakers ‘borrow’ successful vehicle styling, outflank their rivals
By Roland Jones
MSNBC
Updated: 5:14 p.m. ET May 23, 2006

The plagiarism plague
BBC News
Friday, 7 February, 2003, 13:18 GMT

Iraq dossier 'solid' - Downing Street
BBC News
Friday, 7 February, 2003, 13:14 GMT

A piece of plagiarism?
BBC News
7 February, 2003, 11:11 GMT
Here are some examples of similarities between the government dossier and the work of Ibrahim al-Marashi.

Iraq - Its Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation
Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
January 2003
PDF

IRAQ'S SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE NETWORK: A GUIDE AND ANALYSIS
By Ibrahim al-Marashi
MERIA Journal
Volume 6, No. 3 - September 2002

The fall and rise of service in the 20th Century
Gordon Housworth
Intellectual Capital Group LLC
Copyright 1997 Intellectual Capital Group
Published in Competitive Advantage
American Society for Quality Services journal, 1997

Provices and Serducts
If you think you're either in the product or the service business, you're probably in trouble. Learn to wrap a service around your product or to 'productize' your service.
By Michael Schrage
Fast Company
Issue 04, page 48, August 1996

The Honest Man's Guide to Plagiarism
JOHN GREENWAY
NATIONAL REVIEW
DECEMBER 21, 1979
Mirror

Gordon Housworth



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