(This blog was first posted on ideapoke.com)
Accelerating innovation & technology development while reducing risks and costs has been an alluring idea to the management of any company. For over a decade now open innovation, where companies open their boundaries and use external as well as internal ideas and paths to market, has been promisingly delivering this ideological wish of the management. So, while at this end of the spectrum is sharing and opening up to all new possibilities, at the other end of the spectrum lies Copyrights and Intellectual Property (IP). Bronwyn Hall in her study states that: “IPRs are generally designed to exclude others from using a firm’s ideas and inventions”.
While most people view IPRs fundamentally conflicting with open innovation, in truth this is not the case. Successful companies have begun to realise that no firm can develop all the technology they need internally. The need for a strong marketing strategy and a viable product adoption plan, has ensured a company needs products that integrate, function and seamlessly execute with products produced by other firms. Hence concepts such as co-opetition amongst others have sprung up. The confusion and misconception lies with companies and universities insisting on “patents” in order to avoid a long drawn legal battle on ideas being stolen. The other problem is the excessive patenting which creates trouble with collaboration and huge amounts of money being spent on patents not being used. The most common, is using patents to ‘troll’. This is the fundamental reason patents are perceived badly, as inhibitors of innovation, as blockage for growth.
Ideapoke believes that understanding and crafting out an IP management strategy will actually help increase skill within companies and assist in further developing open innovation strategies. For instance, take your partner’s perspective – The context is the collaboration between IP and open innovation. If you understand your partner’s view, you will be fair and invest for a long-term relationship. You will protect the interests and revenues of both the companies and share the risks accordingly. This will ensure you create an IP framework where both parties involved (the technologist, and the company taking it to market), can make/share revenue.
Take a Cross-functional open innovation & IP strategy – This means you modularise and adopt a multi-phase or tired approach to Copyrights and IP as Ideapoke has done. Early in the process keep yourself anonymous and prepare for the NDA before you start collaboration. The next part is the question articulation – with the right wording, you can ensure how much you want to disclose. Ideapoke typically sits with the R&D experts and a legal team from day 1 as they articulate the challenge and talk about the core problem. If there is no patent to the technology outside – then you can choose to share IP as you co-develop or make research agreements. If a patent was existing – then Ideapoke recommends typically (although not always, since we factor the business case, technology and long term strategy) an exclusive licensing model, or joint equity model between the solution provider and the solution user.
Intellectual property and open innovation are not conflicting. Using the right strategy you can protect and innovate at the same time – and no more within the 4 walls of your company. Copyrights and IPRs can safeguard the interests of the solution provider, solution user and the intermediary as they innovate.