Two weeks ago I did some contract production work at a kids’ toy/book company. While having lunch in the company kitchen, several employees got into a rollicking discussion about their various techniques for ripping off ideas from trade show exhibitors. Having just exhibited at my first trade show, this naturally made me very nervous and kind of angry, so I vented to friend about it.
I said, “I knew big companies had no qualms about ripping off small designers, but I didn’t know that it was the sole source of their creative development!”
“So what?” My friend said.
“So that sucks! I don’t want to spend my whole life fighting off people who try to steal my ideas!”
“So don’t fight them” he said. “Just move on to the next idea. By the time they steal it, you’ll probably be bored with it anyway. Besides, if you’ve only got one idea, you won’t last in business anyway. Look at it this way: it’s like Apple and Microsoft. One company makes money by constantly releasing brand new products. The other makes money by watering down those products and making them more affordable and available to the mainstream. Does Steve Jobs stomp his feet and sue Microsoft every time they steal an idea? No. He doesn’t care, because he’s already got ten more ideas in the works. Apple may be a smaller company, but it’s better respected and still does extremely well financially. Which one would you rather be?”