The theft of IP is one of the most serious problems facing designers and product developers. Corporations seeking to innovate must always take the probability, not just the possibility, of knockoffs into account from the moment they begin to develop new products. IP theft is a direct challenge to innovation.

Which is why I find Plagiarius so much fun. Every year, a jury holds a contest for the best knockoffs. According to Prof. Rido Busse, the founder of the award "Plagiarius," up to 10% of global commerce involves fakes and what he calls "plagiarisms." Check out the 2005 knockoff award winners. Here's where to go to apply for the 2006 contest .

A glance at the knockoff award winners shows that Taiwan and China are among the worst offenders. I remember asking a Chinese-educated designer working in a first rate design firm in San Francisco why she was in the U.S. when she could be doing great things back in China. She looked a me for a moment and then said "in China, I would sit at a table and my boss would bring me a product and tell me to copy it. That's all. Here, I can design my own things. I can design new products. All my friends want to come here."

I don't know who, if anyone, is picking up this blog in China and Taiwan, but if any policymakers are in the audience, listen to this Chinese women. You're paying a very high price for stealing intellectual property.

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