Your editorial “China brings flattery PN can do without” [Aug. 28, Page 6] reminds me of an incident in Dusseldorf, Germany. A United Kingdom professorial type came up to me at our exhibit at K 2004, pointing to our technical brochure on nanotechnology and asking, “Do you have a licensee in China?” in a way that somehow always makes this kid from Brooklyn wish that he had taken speech lessons.
I replied, “No. Why?” Perplexed, the chap scratched his head as if something was terribly amiss and said, “That's strange! I just saw this very exact same bulletin at Chinaplas. Same graphics, same cover, same content, just the logo and address was Chinese and not yours. Are you sure?”
I replied, “I wrote the bulletin. My wife and I own the company. I'm sure.”
He walked away scratching his head as if the world he knew no longer was the same. He was right.
When you get mugged, you tend to say things like, “Remember one thing: Our editorial content is our lifeblood. We don't make parts or machines, but rather we manufacture newspapers. Having our stories lifted and misappropriated is akin to having a valid patent violated on a novel process, compound or piece of equipment.”
Fact is, if you do make parts or machines or chemicals or widgets — and you lose that business because China can make it cheaper and then encroach on your domestic markets — you lose your lifeblood here, as well as there. In a perverse way, Plastics News is not only frustrated from trying to grow in the Chinese market, but PN also loses subscribers and advertising here because processors close shop in the U.S.A. — and multinationals move offshore.
The concept that an individual or corporation can own an idea (patent, trademark, editorial content, etc.) as established by our founding fathers in the 18th Century U.S. Constitution is contrary to Confucian philosophy (551-479 BC), which believes that all ideas come from the Universal One and therefore belong to everyone (the masses). A patent or copyright is therefore viewed as an artificial construct of a body of laws that do not apply to China or Chinese thinking.
The plastics manager's explanation in your editorial — “the practice of reproducing content without prior approval is 'very common' in China, and no harm is intended” — is actually an honest reflection of the fact that they don't understand why we consider it a violation of our rights when they copy because in their philosophical mind-set, they have done no wrong.
Salvatore J. Monte
Kenrich Petrochemicals Inc.