Stealing Ideas

In the ultra-competitive world we live in today it seems to me that stealing research ideas has become commonplace. Of course, why not? People figure that nothing will happen to them.

Everyone clearly knows that stealing money or objects is a criminal act, so why don’t we feel the same way about stealing ideas? Is it because it’s so easy, hard to prove, and rarely prosecuted? Stealing ideas can be much worse than stealing money because not only can an idea have monetary value, but the theft can easily destroy the life of a researcher. In one of my previous blog entries I mentioned that an idea can take a long time to develop, years or even decades. Meanwhile the person who steals the idea, can quickly become rich and famous.

Ideas are somewhat regulated in industry, even if poorly so. Unfortunately they are not regulated at all in academia. I am sure that even many “Famous Strong and Confident” researchers might have gotten to that stage by stealing ideas. The situation is just out of control! who is the real inventor? We do not know it anymore! I can proudly say that I have never stole an idea! not that I know of anyway!

Adolfo Cotter, MD

Apr 5/2010

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