General Question

mirza's avatar

Is it innovation when you modify an idea that already exists ?

Asked by mirza (5042points) November 19th, 2007

Lets say that there is an idea that already exists but it’s not really big or useful. Now if one was to take that idea, modify it and make it better and more useful than ever before, would that be considered as innovation ?

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13 Answers

sferik's avatar

I would argue that all innovations (except, perhaps, the first) are built upon an idea or ideas that previously existed, so yes.

sferik's avatar

To expand a little on my earlier comment, I believe the significance of an innovation can be measured by the distance between the end product and what existed before.

kevbo's avatar

I think you’ll find a yes here.

sferik's avatar

To cite 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kazinsky from a copyright ruling last year, “Nothing today, like nothing since we tamed fire, is geniually new. Culture, like science and technology, grows by accretion—each new creator building on the works of those who came before.”

Perchik's avatar

I think it depends on why you want the term innovation. If you’re trying to market an idea someone else had, under new pretenses, I think you should probably contact the original idea makers.

Although sferik makes the point that everything is just an improvement on other things, this doesn’t hold up legally at all.

eBay is an improvement upon the auction house. When eBay was first introduced, it was NEW, and therefore an innovation. However, if someone takes the idea of eBay, repackages it in a new website (not affiliated with eBay), they probably wouldn’t have any legal ground to stand on if eBay were to sue.

Without knowing why you want the term “innovation” and without knowing what you’re referring to, I don’t think any of us can make the call.

nerfmissile's avatar

Whether or not we can, as humans, truly invent anything, depends upon our ability to supercede the spacetime continuum. Until then, we’re stuck in the sandbox using other peoples’ sand. And that’s not a bad place to be compared with the immensity and horror of pure possibility.

I will take my innovation with context, please!

sndfreQ's avatar

Xerox would say no, Apple and Microsoft-yes :)

sferik's avatar

Here are some articles discussing the history of the GUI, which you’re referencing.

To quote one, “Saying that ‘Apple invented the GUI’ or ‘Apple ripped off the idea from PARC’ is overly simplistic, but saying that ‘Xerox invented the GUI’ is equally so.”

sndfreQ's avatar

@sferik-thanks for the 411

sndfreQ's avatar

@sferik
I read the Mackido-wow! So how would you answer the mirza’s question in reference to MS?

sndfreQ's avatar

never mind-the ars technica article summed it up perfectly…great link!

mirza's avatar

@sferik : i was referring to actually modifying someone else’s idea for a website

sferik's avatar

Mirza, I was responding to sndfreq.

It seems that the word “innovation” still invokes the Microsoft antitrust defense.

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