This is a view of the Faber Castell pencil factory, or part of it, at Stein. I go through Stein most Fridays so this time I got out to take a picture.
The occasion for the picture is an article in the Economist in September, Faber-Castell:
The future of the pencil – An eight-generation family firm shows how innovation need never stop.
Apparently it was Faber Castell that invented the hexagonal pencil, which won’t roll off the table, and various other things.
I got this from IPKAT, where Neil Wilkof is disturbed by the Economist’s claim that Faber Castell stole the idea of putting a rubber (that’s an eraser, for US readers) on a pencil (someone else had patented the idea, but the judge thought it was obvious).
What did The Economist mean by “stolen”? I mean, in today’s world, the bad guys, at least under one view of things, are the patent trolls, who are accused of seeking to enforce a patent solely for the purposed of extracting “unfair” rents from unsuspecting users of the patented invention. No one would go so far as to say that patent trolls are “stealing” from the third parties who agree to pay the troll a sum to settle. Be that as it may, the pejorative context of the patent troll is exactly the opposite from the Faber situation in the 1870’s. All that Faber apparently did was defend itself from an infringement claim by alleging that the patent was invalid. If that is theft, then virtually every defendant in a patent litigation action is candidate to be of a “thief”, if it succeeds in invalidating the patent at issue.
Meanwhile, for those who read German, have a look at Lexikaliker’s blog, mainly about pencils. Even if you don’t speak German, the photos are interesting.