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What does exactly constitute plagiarism?

  1. Jun 23, 2010 #1
    just what i meant by the question. for example if a bloke wrote a paper on an innovative way to use web technology and another bloke used that paper to sell a product, does it amount to plagiarism or does the new method have to be patented first?
    im not sure this should be posted in general discussion, but anyways.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 23, 2010 #2
    You're talking about two separate issues. Plagiarism is specific to copyright, typically the written word, and is not related to patent. If someone wrote a paper on a new technology the paper itself is copyright protected. The idea in the paper would have to be patented which is a separate process and legal issue.

    If you intend to sell a product based on the idea in the paper you need to check patents. Most likely it will be patented and if you are producing the product, not purchasing it from a distributor, you will have to ask permission from the holder of the patent rights to do so, which will most likely cost you if they even allow it.

    As far as the paper is concerned you can quote short sections of it with citation in your brochure along with your sales pitch (do not solely reprint sections of the paper) and urge interested customers to find and read the paper for themselves if they wish more information. You could probably get away with printing out the paper and having it available to show customers but distributing (handing out/mailing/ect) copies of the paper without permission could get you in some trouble. If you intend to produce and distribute copies of the paper you can just ask permission from the author. In this case, as opposed to the patent case, you are more likely to get permission for free but I am not really familiar with how authors of research papers react to such requests.
  4. Jun 23, 2010 #3
    yes, but what if the idea is not patented?
    would that be like a loophole or something?
  5. Jun 23, 2010 #4
    In the US, I am unsure about other countries, technically the idea still belongs to its progenitor. You may apply for a patent yourself and if the person who came up with the idea does not challenge it then you are fine. If you use the idea without patenting it it is possible that someone else may patent the idea and then you will have to deal with them. If you have been using the unpatented idea but are not the person who came up with it before it was patented by someone else you may have a case for rights to use it (I am unsure about more complex issues) but I think that like the creator you will be required to apply for patent in order to protect that right. I believe it is also legally your duty to check on any patent claims for an idea before you attempt to produce the idea yourself. If you proceed on the basis that you only think that no one else has a patent you will likely lose any case brought against you.
  6. Jun 23, 2010 #5
    An 'idea' cannot be patented. The product of an idea can be. If the product of the original idea from the original paper is over a year old and the originator of the product from the original paper hasn't filed for a patent (if there is a product described), then it is of the public domain. Also, if you make (or have made) an improvement to the original product, that improvement can be patented.

    Anything that's of a written nature falls under the copyright laws of what ever country you are living if you publish it only in that country I believe. I don't know if there's any international copyrights available (you should check first), but I think you can file for a patent that covers some countries, but not all.
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