On originality in engineering
Often it takes more guts to simply admit someone else got it right
and simply-subject to the laws regarding intellectual property, but
not fantasies (like MagneQueef!)-copy the other guy's work.
If it's patented, pay a royalty, engineer a workaround, or wait until
the patent expires.
This is not dishonest or immoral. Intellectual property consists of
copyrights, trademarks and service marks (which are not physical
mechanisms and do not apply to them), trade secrets (which do not
affect you if you did not work for the other company or sign a NDA)
and patents, which see above.
Good examples abound. In the field of firearms design the single
greatest designer was John Moses Browning, a Mormon blacksmith turned
gunsmith who designed no less than thirty different rifles, pistols,
shotguns and machine guns the majority of which were considered
enormously successful designs and many of which are still produced.
Browning died in November of 1926.
A lot of companies make Browning designed firearms today. By
contrast, no carmaker has ever fully emulated the suspension of the
French Citroen, which was in 1955 the most sophisticated suspension
system in the world and in some ways still is. (Rolls Royce used some
Citroen components and Mercedes used a rear suspension derived from it
for a while, and British Leyland had two competing, conceptually
similar systems they sold for awhile and in true British fashion made
a disaster of.)
The consumer of art may want, or say he wants original design but
the consumer of a working piece of machinery wants it to work. A big
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