At the recent gasworld conference in Singapore I was given the honour of being asked to chair the final session with John Raquet in the Consultants Corner. As I was a little unsure on my qualification to be involved in such a prestige session of the event, I explained to the audience that as I was a person of integrity and that all who knew me would be aware that I was honest in all my dealings, I asked the audience how this qualified me as a consultant. After a few gulps for air, John put the audience correct and explained how integrity was a prerequisite in his day-to-day business.

During the session, a very topical question was raised that I happily took on: how do you stop someone taking your intellectual property?

Intellectual property issues normally find their way into the hands of the grateful legal brigade and I am sure we all heard a few legal cries of whoopee when two consumer electronics giants recently started their wee global sparring match. A major issue today in our manufacturing industry is the copying of products by others as this gives them a quick route to the market with an assumed quality product, without any design or development costs, but with no historical performance data. Today, some attempted copies in the valve industry put the global handbag and DVD industry followers to shame, in my opinion.

Over the last 10 years, during which I have made over 40 visits to mainland China, I have seen many attempts by companies to copy products – so much so that it does not surprise me what can be found today. US, European and Japanese valve companies have been prime for having their product ranges not just used as a model, but copied and in some instances, with names almost copied too. This also appears to have happened in South East Asia and I wonder if perhaps, it is a cultural matter as they do not seem to see they have done anything wrong. However, I must say I was extremely surprised to see a recent attempt to copy products coming out of the US. In supplying these products to the industrial gas industry, at Herose we have the test and historical data that shows our valves can last at least two-times longer than ‘honest brands’ and with a return rate over the last 10 years of less than 0.00002%. Can your business afford to take a chance?

On first seeing examples of this over nine years ago I used to hyperventilate and look to leave the smiling exhibitor with a ‘Glasgow Kiss’. However time, and perhaps age, has allowed me to approach such findings not with annoyance, but to see these attempts as a matter of pride and to view those involved in the attempt with some sadness.

Today I just smile and ask them a few questions including, who is the design authority of such a wonderful product? In discussion with John during the event, I understood that there may also be similar issues globally in the consultancy business. It may be a little annoying, but we should perhaps not forget that ‘leaders lead and followers follow’.

Published On: August 23rd, 2012 / Categories: Company /