Creativity: Whose Bright Idea?

Companies are cracking down on pirates who steal designs, movies and computer programs. The battle is getting hotter -- and more important.

When Johnson & Johnson introduced a new fiber-glass casting tape for broken bones several years ago, executives at Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing flew into a rage. The tape, which sets fractures faster than plaster, was remarkably similar in design and function to a casting tape developed by 3M scientists. The St. Paul-based company quickly sued, charging J&J with violating four of its patents. Last month a federal court backed 3M and ordered J&J to pay $116 million in damages and interest -- the fourth largest patent-infringement judgment in history.

Although the verdict is subject to appeal, the award underscores the growing...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!