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Counterfeit, imitation, reverse engineering and learning: reflections from Chinese manufacturing firms

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In a previous paper, we developed an alternative perspective on product imitation and innovation. In this paper, we explore some of our research questions using empirical data gathered in China. While we do not condone counterfeit activities, we explore the role of counterfeiting, imitation and learning from the perspective of Chinese manufacturers and provide insight from a small number of key informants about the motives and incentives for non-consensual acquisition of technology and their views on what Western firms should be doing to counteract the threat to their technological advantage. In this paper, we argue that where companies use the technology property of others to develop their own technology capability without the consent of the other party (non-consensual acquisition of technology), firms should consider whether there are opportunities for collaboration before resorting immediately to the legal tools at their disposal to enforce intellectual property rights and seek financial recompense from infringers without due consideration of the learning, new product development and innovation context. We believe that the findings from our case studies can make a significant contribution towards a better understanding of non-consensual acquisition of technology in an innovation context. In particular, the information gained from the key informants provides their perspective on the causes of non-consensual acquisition of technology and their views and recommendations of how companies affected by this behaviour might be able to better handle this problem.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Business School, University of Portsmouth, Portland Street, Portsmouth, PO1 3DE, UK., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 November 2007

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