The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #17225   Message #1936983
Posted By: Muttley
15-Jan-07 - 03:45 AM
Thread Name: 1/19 quote-value of public domain-overprotecting
Subject: RE: 1/19 quote-value of public domain-overprotecting
An interesting anecdote to the above discussion comes from Australia.

First, allow me the indulgence of a small history lesson.

For hundreds of years, if farmers wished to 'water their stock' or 'irrigate a plot' in a limited fashion (special plants etc) or if a vendor wished to 'distrubute clean drinking water' (as was a profession in the early days of Melbourne Victoria - can't speak for other major cities.
Then the process involved loading a wagon with a bunch of 'hogshead' barrels and delivering them to their required destination / customers / recipients.

In the 1880's, a foundry operator in the country town of Shepparton in Victoria devised a 180-gallon galvanised-steel tank with cast iron ends, one one of which was fitted with a tap. When the barrel rusted, it was a simple matter to bring in the tank and heat the ends, remove the "wheel-rim" exterior band, remove the rusted barrel and replace it with a pre-fabbed barrel and replace the ends. The whole deal was mounted on a timber frame which attached to an axle and wheels and could be horse drawn as a unit.
Fill the barrel via the hatch in the end at the top and away you go - less effort, less work, less pain.

This was done by one John Furphy and thus the "Furphy Tank" was born and still exists to this day. It was, reputedly; The first of its kind in the world and has spawned hundreds of variational descendants around the world (sort of like the Combine Harvester - invented here, but the patent bought cheap from another fabricator in rural New South Wales)

John Furphy was a Temperance Advocate, a scholar and a perfectionist. The cast iron ends of his mobile water cart were blank and unadorned except for a small 'brand' mark (embossed as part of the casting at about "one O'Clock) for the first few years. Later (about 1890) he put the name "FURPHY WATER CART" in raised letters across the the diameter of each end. By the turn of the century he had added his personal 'credo' at the bottom of each end in the form of a four-line poem - a 'quatrain'. It read:

Good, Better, Best
Never Let It Rest
Until Your Good Is Better,
Abd Your Better Best

FAST FORWARD 90 - 100 years and the Furphy foundry was a little 'worse for wear' in the prosperity stakes: They were close to closing their doors forever.

Around the mid-'80's Telecom, the Telecommunications giant here in Australia marketed an add promoting themselves. (They had to. THe market had been "thrown open" and there were now a couple of 'up-and-coming' new telecommunications companies vying for the 'telephone dollar in Australia. One, Optus, was a serious threat - it is, today, Telecom's biggest competitor. (others fell by the wayside and have been replaced by more solid telecommunications alternatives from overseas - Virgin, Vodaphone, Three etc).
However, Telecom was, for the first time in its history, 'feeling the heat'.

The brilliant ad campaign featured all the progressive stuff Telecom was doing for Australia - extended networks to the outback, sponsoring major sports, upgrading existing systems and computerising them etc.

The ads ended with a passionate choral singing of:

"Good, better, best, WE will never rest; 'Til OUR good is better, and OUR better best".

They assumed that the saying, to which they simply added a tune and changed a couple of pronouns, was public domain - a common saying. Unfortunately, no-one advised Telecom's American boss of the day that the saying was VERY well-known; especially in the rural sector, where the Furphy Tank is a ubiquitous item and Furhy Foundry sued Telecom Australia for breach of intellectual property and won.

With their settlement, Furhy's refinanced, bought out their debtors, retooled, added in a major galvanising plant and extra facilities, computerised their machinery - and all without having to lay off staff (in fact their employee base GREW !!!)

As a result, the Furphy company still exists and is stronger than ever.

Like all laws the defense of 'Intellectual Property' relies on good common sense which, in the Legal world, seems to go on frequent vacation. Still, I think THIS law is valuable in its ability to protect the small creative muses of this world.


PS -If you've ever heard of a rumour being referred to as a 'Furphy' - that's another piece of history.

Australia supplied Furphy Tanks to the Western Front in World War One to supply forward positions with 'clean' water for cooking and drinking. The carts would travel between a set number of posts abd originate from common depots. Thus any 'Front-line' news, stories, rumours, hearsays etc would be passed on between carters and from there to the soldiers who would collect their water rations a few hundred yards behind the forward posts - thus soldiers would hear the "news" from the carters and from other blokes further up or down the line. Anything which proved unfounded or sounded unlikely was then referred to as a "Furphy" - a news item of dubious origin: a rumour.

Hope you enjoyed, Mutt