All organizations understand and value Intellectual Property. Open Innovation has an impact on IP, and it can be negative unless it’s managed properly. For example, you can undervalue your share, or even lose IP arising from the collaboration.
In the preparation phase of your OI project, you will have understood your IP in more detail, understood the value to you and to the OI relationship, and generated additional ideas and IP. The next steps in the sequence are “Find” and “Get”, scanning the technology horizons and securing a deal with the right partner. A key part of this is to evaluate and understand the IP your partner is bringing. That tells you, amongst other things, what the potential is for arising IP, and what conflicts there may be in the future.
Many OI relationships are built between companies with complementary expertise. Most supplier/customer OI projects don’t produce conflicts of overlapping IP. The ideal relationship enables you to exploit IP while allowing your partner to use it in fields that don’t interest you. Don’t forget this is rarely a zero sum game – without the OI relationship it’s unlikely you would have the arising IP to worry about. You should expect tough negotiations and disagreement, that doesn’t mean the eventual outcome should be a serious problem, it means that OI can be hard work as well.
Sometimes corporate policy mandates a full ownership of IP. In all honesty, this approach can sometimes get in the way of OI. It’s better to take a pragmatic approach to arising IP which allows you the protection you need through secure licensing, while allowing your partner to benefit in whatever way they can without prejudicing your position. Why should you care if your partner exploits IP in a totally different field? Good luck to them!
Finally, the best OI partnerships do everything they can to generate and protect arising IP, usually because the preparation and valuation work has been done, and a spirit of openness and trust exists. If you can’t trust your partner to do the right thing with IP, it’s not a good OI relationship. If you’re still not sure – call us.