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

Subscribe
Subscribe

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 TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

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