April 29, 2011

Patents, Perceptions and Paranoia

Interesting news this week in the ever-expanding arena of intellectual property rights lawsuits: China-based Huawei sued China-based ZTE for patent and trademark infringements. The quick takeaways are a) Companies with a Chinese heritage like Huawei have become world-class technology and IPR leaders and b) contrary to sadly-lingering dated beliefs, such companies solidly appreciate the value of IPR’s, respecting those of others, and fighting to protect their own.

The less obvious takeaway is what would seem to be the demonstration that the hysterical advocates that persist in driving the yet-more-unfortunate and slanderously-perpetuated misperception that Huawei is somehow controlled by the Chinese Government are, at best, on crack.

Think about it: ZTE, by its own admission, is somewhere between 15-20% owned by organs of the Chinese Government. Huawei, privately held by its employees, is regularly and wrongly reputed to also be under some or another nefarious Red thumb. So… for those that purport to subscribe to this latter belief (and I say “purport” because I’m pretty sure that anyone with half a mind knows that it’s all bullsh*t, but some folk nevertheless maintain the charade in order to drive parochial xenophobic or anti-competitive agendas), Huawei suing ZTE would amount to the Chinese government suing itself. Really?

…but wait, having spent the better part of the last year learning how the average paranoid half-a-mind functions, could it all be a ploy, a marvelously Machiavellian machination?

I bet they’ll be thinking something like this: In an elaborate multi-decade plan, the Chinese Government manipulated Huawei’s R&D to ensure that Huawei would over the years invest in and develop and patent specific technologies after which the nefarious Reds arranged for ZTE to pirate the same technologies in order to set up a scenario years later in which Huawei would sue ZTE with the real goal having all the while been for Huawei to prove it is in fact not controlled by the Chinese government.

Yeah, right, and the White House faked Obama’s birth certificate (incidentally, that last comment was “not intended to be a factual statement”).

Whatever… At the end of the day, notwithstanding a decade of blended accidental and contrived misperceptions related to Huawei, the truth will ultimately out, and the truth is that Huawei defines the essence of tomorrow’s successful companies – a multinational technology leader strategically leveraging markets and minds across the planet to most efficiently deliver the highest quality technology, solutions and services.

April 11, 2011

The E’s New C's, by HCA (1837) – Recast (2011)

There once (still) lived a lawmaker who was so bent on bashing certain foreign-based telecommunications companies and forwarding select special interests that he devoted countless taxpayer-funded hours to pursuing his agenda by spreading ill-founded rumors and falsehoods. He did not, seemingly, care for his constituents, who would benefit from a more competitive telecommunications marketplace, and, it seemed, sticking to the facts did not interest him; the only thing, in fact, he obsessed on was issuing multiple mis-informed missives to random Cabinet offices unfairly attacking said companies. He had a bit of myth or innuendo for every hour of the day, and for every letter he sent; and as one would say of a king “He is in his cabinet,” so one could say of him, “He is writing hate mail.”

The great city where he resided was very partisan; every day many lobbyists from both sides of the aisle circulated the Halls of Parliament. One day, a number of mysterious characters called on the lawmaker; calling themselves secret-keepers, they made people believe that they had information that could prove all of the as-yet-unfounded myths and rumors to be true. Their stories and facts, they said, were not only exceptionally damning, but they were of such a level of classification as to be un-disclosable, and, further, would only be doubted by any man who was unfit for his office or unpardonably stupid.

“Those must be wonderful secrets,” thought the lawmaker. “If I were to repeat such rumors and innuendo, I should be able to not only maintain my bashing, but also find out which Parliamentarians are unfit for their places, and to distinguish the clever from the stupid. I must have access to these secrets without delay.” And, so, he bestowed monstrous credibility to the secret-keepers, in exchange for which they committed to set to work without any loss of time. The secret-keepers donned their sunglasses and sped off in black Suburbans and otherwise pretended to be very hard at work, but they did nothing whatsoever related to fact-checking their intelligence.

Not long later, the lawmaker thought: “I should very much like to know how they are getting on with the secrets.” But he felt rather uneasy when he remembered that he who might doubt the secrets was not fit for his office. Personally, he was of the opinion that he had nothing to fear, yet he thought it advisable to send somebody else first to see how matters stood. Everybody in the city knew how remarkable the secrets were, and all were anxious to see how stupid their neighbors were.

“I shall send my Staff Director,” thought the lawmaker. “He can judge best the nature of these secrets, for he is intelligent, and nobody understands his office better than he.”

The Staff Director went to meet with the secret-keepers and, after a lengthy briefing, thought “Heaven preserve us! There’s nothing substantive behind any of these secrets, other than that they are defined as ‘secret’ and cannot be disclosed.” But he said nothing. The secret-keepers asked again and again: “Is it not frightening? Are you not concerned? Our country is threatened, is it not?” The Staff Director tried his best to see reason or rationality behind the swirling innuendo, but could not do so. “Oh dear,” he thought, “can I be so stupid? I should never have thought so, and nobody must know it! Is it possible that I am not fit for my office? No, no, I cannot say that I doubt the secrets.”

“Have you got nothing to say?” asked a secret-keeper, while he pretended yet again to be busily fact-checking.

“Oh, yes, your secrets are very enlightening,” replied the Staff Director, looking through his glasses. “Our country is in danger! I shall tell the lawmaker that these matters are not to be doubted.” The secret-keepers then leaped back into their ebony Suburbans and, Bluetooth encumbered, tore away, saying nothing to the no-ones over their empty lines, ever preserving their pretense as protectors of truths.

Soon afterwards the emperor sent another Staff Member to the secret-keepers to see how they were getting on, and to learn if they had concocted any new and fabulous secrets. Like the Staff Director before him, this staffer too tried and tried to elicit some fact-based justification behind the litany of “secrets” presented by the keepers. “I am not stupid,” thought the man, “but these secrets seem nothing but myth and innuendo. I must not let anyone know my thoughts.” So he praised the secrets, and the keepers themselves for the integrity of their fact-checking and their high levels of clearance. He returned to the lawmaker and reinforced the inviolability of the keepers’ product.

Everybody in the whole town talked about the worrisome secrets, even the media, which, while perhaps skeptical, were as often as not driven more by recounting a steamy story than investigating the facts. At last the lawmaker himself decided to visit the secret-keepers to sample their wares firsthand. With a number of staff in tow, including the two who had already been there, he called on the clever keepers, who tirelessly plied wireless keyboards and mobile phones, which may or may not have had any connectivity. Upon hearing a freshly-concocted batch of innuendo, the two staffers who had been there before said: “Are these not magnificent secrets?” “How inflammatory! How damning!.”

“What is this?” thought the lawmaker, “Statements of so-called fact with no substantive backing beyond ‘it’s classified.’ This is terrible! Am I stupid? Am I unfit to be a lawmaker? That would indeed be the most dreadful thing that could happen to me. I cannot voice my thoughts.” So, instead, he said: “Really,” turning to the keepers, “your secrets have our most gracious approval;” and, nodding contentedly, he silently pondered the empty rumors, for he simply could not say what he was thinking aloud. All of his staffers similarly mulled quietly, and, although they too - if intellectually honest - were skeptical, like the lawmaker, they nodded their communal consent. And all advised him to add references to the secrets to his next missive.

A few days later, with staffers and other lawmakers atwitter (in every sense), and the media poised over their figurative pens, the lawmaker issued yet another roundhouse letter, chock full of glorious secret-keeper myth and misinformation. “Are we not frightened?” postured the lawmaker. “What horrific threats,” he scare-mongered. His comments were echoed, hollowly, by a lawmaker or two, and his letter, handily leaked to key media, drew the requisite headlines. In short, there was great and political harrumphing and marvelous media hype.

“But there’s nothing to it,” said a lone but brave blogger. “It’s just a bunch of protectionist, xenophobic crap with no basis in fact.” “Good heavens! Listen to the voice of an uncompromised and honest observer,” posted an anonymous commenter. And another posted the same, and another, and yet another. And they asked for facts, for truth. And they objected to misinformation, intended or otherwise. And this made a deep impression upon the lawmaker, for it seemed to him, at last, that they were right; but, he thought to himself, “Now I must bear up to the end.” And he continued to sling mud, cushioned by loyal staff, and an ever-dwindling handful of lawmaker colleagues.