All organizations understand and value Intellectual Property. Open Innovation has an impact on IP, and it can be negative unless it’s managed properly. This includes compromising or undervaluing your background IP in a deal with an OI partner. Most successful OI relationships profit through the efficient management of IP. Therefore it is crucial to have as clear an understanding as possible of what you have before you enter any collaboration. The old saying of “ready, aim, fire” applies just as much to OI as any other business practice.
The classic OI process follows four stages: Want – Find – Get - Manage In this process, you need to know what it is you want. As part of that stage, a proper evaluation of your existing IP will give you a clearer idea of what is missing, what could be complementary and what would trespass on other people’s territory. You will be much better placed to put a value on your property. This is also the stage to generate new IP. You should hold brainstorm sessions with different people from your organization participating, to generate new ideas that could form the basis for patent or design submissions before you talk to anybody else. It is much better to have IP in your possession before you think of the idea after discussions have started when it could be interpreted as “arising”.
Finally, the idea that existing IP could be compromised is often held up as a reason not to enter into OI relationships. If you need to feel more comfortable, ask your legal colleagues when was the last real example of the problem they are raising, the answer will probably make you feel better. And finally, if you don’t try it you won’t get the benefit. And PS – don’t forget the Confidential Disclosure Agreement….. If you’re still not sure – call us.