One of the biggest obstacles to discussing the concept of innovation is the perception that innovation can only involve unique ideas. Ask someone you define what innovation is, and they'll usually give you an explanation that indicates you have to have a mixture between Edison and Einstein to be considered innovative.
Of course, that's crap. Some of the best innovators around take the ideas of others and make them better or simply more marketable than others. The ability to tweak a product or service and make it more palatable to the masses is a keyNirvana skill in the world of innovation.
Malcolm Gladwell knows this, and after thinking about it, isn't even convinced that plagiarism, long thought to be a crime of ethics, is a crime at all because there aren't many original ideas left these days. From What the Dog Saw, Gladwell's latest book that is a compilation of his columns from the New Yorker, specifically a passage where he's talking about the feeling that his work had been stolen for a Broadway play: