Torrey Hills President Mr. Kuang’s Reflection on China and Innovation
Published in the Mercury News
In this country, the issues of intellectual property protection are taken very seriously. Patent protection is a basic right every innovative enterprise can expect. However, it could present a challenge to the business model followed by many Chinese firms - take an innovative new product developed elsewhere, copy it with minor alterations, then manufacture and sell it at a lower price than the original. In January this year, two U.S. federal marshals showed up at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to raid a company from Changzhou, China, who was showing a self-balancing, one wheeled electric skateboard that looked "strikingly similar" to the one patented by the Silicon Valley startup Future Motion. Many US companies share the same resentment that their patents are being violated by low-cost competitors.
That's why Mr. Ken Kuang, CEO of our company, a Chinese-American who is an inventor himself, feels both sad and frustrated. In his article published in Mercury News on July 14, 2016, he pointed out a third way between inventing and copying for China, one that builds on previous ideas but utilizes them in a wholly original way.
Everything, even a failed invention, has a purpose. Think of the Post-It note, invented when a scientist trying to develop an ultra-strong glue instead created a "low-tack" reusable adhesive. Consider Viagra, repurposed as a drug for erectile dysfunction when it disappointed its creators in trials as a heart medication. What is useless in one application can be brilliant in another; the third way. China doesn't have to reinvent the wheel every time. Thinking in terms of this third way could be a step in a better direction.
Mr Kuang is also the author of the Amazon best selling book: From Start-up To Star.
He published another op-ed article on Wall Street Journal.