Open Innovation and IP Strategy

If you believe the buzz, “Open Innovation” is increasingly the creativity engine for global innovation.

The idea is to out source and collaborate as much as possible to increase the creative inputs, reduce risk and thereby increase your chances of successfully innovating (solving commercial problems in the market).

As Henry Chesbrough points out, Open Innovation requires companies to be more savvy about both their defensive and offensive moves in intellectual property.

Here are a few things to think about when developing an IP Strategy for an Open Innovation project:

  1. Be very clear about your commercial objectives – this will define the intellectual property issues you will need to work through to make this happen;
  2. Clearly define who will own what IP from the collaborative work and the type and amount of access to that IP that other collaborators will have;
  3. Consider using a fee for service contracting model rather than a full-scale collaboration as this will enable you to retain all of the IP which is created;
  4. Make sure that the relationships with the collaborators are strong – you want them to come back for other projects and not take your process to your competitors. (Yes, you should ensure that non-disclosure agreements cover the collaboration, but these aren’t going to provide 100% protection.)
  5. A theme emerging here is to get the legals right and from the start – but don’t allow an overly complicated contract destroy any chance of the project getting off the ground;
  6. Consider open source elements to the project – but understand the ramifications of this.
  7. etc
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