According to an article on (click here for article) Weber (the makers of Kettle Braais and Barbeques) lost a copyright case against Cadac with costs and damages (ouch). The Weber legal team say they’ll appeal and that they lost on a technicality. Here we go again…
I say that because it’s just another example of old thinking in an emerging environment that is forcing everyone to re-think Intellectual Property (IP), what it is, and if it should or even can be protected? Obviously there’s a lot at stake here, especially in a world in which many businesses have succeeded because they’ve been able to protect their IP. But should that continue into the future?
Weber are not the first, and nor will they be the last. The entertainment industry is struggling with this currently, and it’s strategy thus far has been to use the ‘might of the law’ to protect the business model they have become rich using. With one or two small innovations, nothing has really changed.

The reasons for IP protection are numerous, but one can only ask whether we shouldn’t acknowledge that these laws were introduced in a different world to the one we have today, and therefore need to be re-thought and seriously over-hauled? Why should someone enjoy protection when they ‘got their first’? Why indeed, especially in a world in which getting there first may be separated by milli-seconds, or not even be first because the real ‘winner’ was disadvantaged by location, technology available etc.
However the strongest reason I’d like to raise, is simply this… we’re heading into a ‘connection economy’. A world in which business will have to re-orientate itself around the customer in ways we’ve never seen before. Weber, in this case, in my opinion, are not doing themselves any favours by taking on Cadac, from a customer point of view. Surely the strategy of the ‘road less travelled’ involves spending their time and money winning me (a customer) over and converting me to ‘raving fan’? Do that and I don’t care what Cadac brings to the party. All they’re doing now is protecting their fat profits and large margins, and above all else (in my opinion again) fighting a losing battle. IP laws are going to have to change. The pressure is on, and if they don’t change because of the smaller inventors and business people, then they’ll change because customers will put their money where their mouth is.
Consumers are getting smarter, and less tolerant of the big boys using, what are increasingly being seen as draconian measures to protect their so called IP.

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