Collaborative & Open innovation implies a context where ideas and knowledge flow across firm and organizations boundaries. In contrast, Intellectual Property Rights have been historically intended to exclude others from using a firm’s ideas and inventions. So both concepts seem irreconcilable at first glance. The paradox does not finish here. Collaborative & Open innovation implies a willingness to allow knowledge produced within the firm to spill over to others whereas a Intellectual Property Right act as a protection to exclude others from using that knowledge.
This is why collaborative development needs looking at new ways to manage intellectual property, or even forget about it during first steps of the relationship.
A growing number of companies are designing and launching new partnership programs with other companies (generally startups). In general, the approach taken in these kind of relationships is to postpone the negotiations about intellectual property as late as possible in the partnership process. The aim is no just to remain as agile as possible but, more important, to preserve the positive collaboration spirit required to overcome the unknown obstacles on the journey to co-creation.
Obviously, trust is a mandatory component in any co-created development. But not negotiation about intellectual property does not mean that involving the Procurement and Legal departments as early as possible in the process could also be a key factor for a successful partnership. It is possible to write partnership protocols for the different phases of a relationship with a business partner In which rights and obligations are decided for prototyping, client testing , developing a Business Plan, organizing a series of key meetings, participating in a co-creation workshop, etc. – without having to immediately begin intellectual property negotiations.
More food for thought
Abstract: Protecting intellectual property and controlling the use of their inventions is key to the strategy of many firms. At the same time, in order to be successful in open collaborative innovation, firms need to share their knowledge with others. This chapter presents, for moderate specialists, some strategic considerations with respect to managing intellectual property in open collaborative innovation. The chapter discusses how licensing strategies can be employed to balance various goals in collaborative efforts to innovate. In particular, licensing of intellectual property is presented as a way to manage protected knowledge that is developed and shared in collaborative innovation.