Automatic makes sense. It probably means something has to occur first before the PR is updated to the toolbar. So, it's not a schedule of time or 'x' amount of says. One thing that I can say is that a large delay is PR updates are usually associated with a major algorithm update. Google has the new caffeine infrastructure and you figure that they will do something with it. I guess Halloween. It's not likely that they will do anything a couple of months before the Christmas season.
Competition helps the little guy. Because, it provides incentive for producers to become more efficient and offer lower priced goods to the consumer. That's why we have a higher standard of living compared to the people that were living behind the 'Iron Curtain'.
People on the net already steal and use copyrighted work.
This is when they either show it as their own work or never give the proper authorship.
See it all the time and see companies suing to have such material removed from websites.
Trademarks to a point are great to have.
Otherwise everyone would love to put a coke or pepsi sign on their site.
But it gets ridiculous on trademarks when so many companies trademark or try to trademark common words.
Most famously, Apple for apple. Though it is tightly written so that we can use apples and grow apples.
Patents are getting to be one of the biggest jokes in the US.
Physical patents are great to protect a particular product.
But this intellectual property patents are fooolish.
EG: a patent for some idea of how to sell products on the net.
Now back to google and page rank.
It is expected, but nothing writ in stone yet that I can find, that google will finally update page rank the last weekend of this month.
Oh, as an aside, it is funny to see people sell sites and say something like "this site will be a page rank 4 at the next update".