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Monday, November 14, 2005

37 Signals Stands Up For Honesty

Jason Fried of 37 Signals recently posted:

Jason Kottke is blogging his trip to Hong Kong. In an entry about having dim sum with a few girls writing an article on blogging, he mentions:

"A favorite conversational tidbit was that when you buy fake electronics in Hong Kong, they ask you which logo you want on it (Sony, Panasonic, NEC, etc.) and then affix the proper sticker. Awesome."

Tongue-in-cheek or not, there’s nothing awesome about IP/brand theft. On the surface it’s funny for a second, but that’s where the humor and awesomeness end. When it becomes ok to steal someone’s brand, copy someone’s product, or blatantly rip off someone else’s design for your profit, well, we’re all in trouble.


You know, everyone wants corporations to be more like people — more responsible, more honest, more respectful of the environment, etc. Yet we’re not as quick to treat corporations like people. We want to see what we can to do scam them. We want to see what we can do to take advantage of them. We call it awesome when people take their brands or their IP. Respect is a two-way street.

In the 37 Signals' comments, the overwhelming sentiment is against Fried. I blogged the following comment there:

There seems to be two points here, what was Kottke’s reaction to the brand theft and what is our personal reaction to brand theft.

Let’s give Kottke the benefit of the doubt for a second and assume he’s not a fan of brand theft. It does seem clear that many of the commentors to this post have no problem with some form of illegal brand theft.

I think Jason’s clear point is how can we ask for more honesty from corporations, when we are not willing to be honest ourselves. That seems to me to be a pretty good question.

If any of the clearer thinkers out there can give me some solid justification for brand theft, I'd love to hear it.