When does ‘commercial interests’ supersede ‘innovation’?

By Clive Gold, CTO Marketing, EMC Australia and New Zealand

The ongoing patent battle between Apple and Samsung raises questions about when commercial interests supersede innovation. I firmly believe that ‘copying’ is wrong so the concept of IP protection is necessary. What I question if using someone’s idea to create a new idea is wrong, or is this the basis of progress? Have we lost the ability to stand on each other’s shoulders?

EMC really became a force to be reckoned with, when it created the storage industry. The storage array used technologies created by other organisations, like the Winchester disk drives, CPU’s, RAM, etc. EMC used ideas out of University research, such as RAID, and then added value to all of this with a great deal of innovation. New caching algorithms built into a new concept of a storage operating system, which ran on a unique hardware architecture and design!  EMC became the giant of the storage industry by standing on the shoulders of other giants. The alternative is to ask for everything to be invented from first principals… a kind of innovation dementia, which is ludicrous!

I saw a documentary. “Good Copy Bad Copy”, the other day about a musician called ‘Girl Talk’ a mash-up and sampling specialist. Part of this discussion was how ludicrous the cost would be if he adhered strictly to the royalty/copyright requirements of all the songs that he samples to produce one of his tracks. On the one hand he is using ‘sounds’ created by others, but on the other hand the final product bears no resemblance to any of the original songs. (Contrast to a re-mix, where the original song is predominant throughout the song.)

Applying this to IT, let’s consider a product called EMC RecoverPoint. This is a continuous data replication technology, which is a unique idea. You could argue that it combines the idea of replication with journaling. Why? Simple replication is good to protect against failure as you have another copy, however it’s lousy for protecting against corruption. (You land up with two perfectly bad copies.) Hence the idea of point in time copies, which means that if you have a corruption you have a known good point to go back to, however its bad as you lose good data from the time of the last PIT copy and the corruption. RecoverPoint now gives you the best of both worlds!

Is this an IP infringement, obviously not this is building on the past to create a new and unique capability! Isn’t that how we got here?


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