Sometimes it takes a bad meme to explain the obvious, and sometimes that meme is correct.1
In 2013, I was working in a robotics factory in Santa Clara California – right in the heart of Silicon Valley. I had the good fortune to talk to several of the Tesla engineers about overseas manufacturing. There message was simple and blunt. “If you are in China do not even mention IP (Intellectual Property), or the next day you’ll see it on the streets being sold.”
Yesterday, while looking through hackaday.com I ran across an interesting article, entitled Reverse-Engineering a Superior Chinese Product. To say the least, I was intrigued because most Chinese Products are cheap copies or clones. But just like the Japanese have learned to increase quailty to increase sales, I expect the Chinese to do the same. In the article, American engineers reverse engineer a $12 Chinese phone (sold only in China).
Here is a blurb from that hackaday article (Jan 1, 2105):
[Bunnie] has dubbed the phenomenon “Gongkai”, a type of institutionalized, collaborative, infringementesque knowledge-exchange that occupies an IP equivalent of bartering. Not quite open source, not quite proprietary. Legally, this sharing is only grey-market on paper, but widespread and quasi-accepted in practice — even among the rights holders.
That article links to a blog post from bunnie. Here is a short blurb — to encourage you to read it.
Gongkai is more a reference to the fact that copyrighted documents, sometimes labeled “confidential” and “proprietary”, are made known to the public and shared overtly, but not necessarily according to the letter of the law. However, this copying isn’t a one-way flow of value, as it would be in the case of copied movies or music. Rather, these documents are the knowledge base needed to build a phone using the copyright owner’s chips, and as such, this sharing of documents helps to promote the sales of their chips. There is ultimately, if you will, a quid-pro-quo between the copyright holders and the copiers.
NOTE: After the eighth paragraph Bunnie breaks in to some technical discussion. It is intended for person reading Hackaday, not entreprenuers. However, beyond that some of the article is interesting, such as the prediction he cites by a former MIT professor.
Other parts are comical, such as the section entilted Reversing the Boot Structure
Other parts have real implications, such as the second paragraph of Booting an OS
The video is also extremely interesting. I recommend watching the first 15 minutes and the last 15 minutes.