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Breaking the Law in 20 Words (Or Less)

Thursday, March 23, 2006 by Slaughter Development

A recent op-ed piece in the New York Times by Michael Crichton states a scientific claim which happens to be copyrighted. Here’s a hint: it’s an expansion on the idea that vitamins are good for you.

Unlike similar statements of fact, such as “the earth revolves around the sun”, this sentence of twenty words is the subject of courtroom controversy. It can’t be repeated, or even considered, without legal ramifications:

A corporation has patented that fact, and demands a royalty for its use. Anyone who makes the fact public and encourages doctors to test for the condition and treat it can be sued for royalty fees. Any doctor who reads a patient’s test results and even thinks of vitamin deficiency infringes the patent. A federal circuit court held that mere thinking violates the patent.

No business should rely on a revenue model based on keeping small amounts of information secret. Even organizations with vast libraries of content—like record labels, production companies and software developers—should differentiate themselves on the quality of their service, not the control of information. If your business includes “trade secrets” as a barrier to your competition, contact Slaughter Development today to evaluate how to transform your business process.

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