Open innovation and intellectual property

Published on October 31, 2021   10 min

Other Talks in the Series: Open Innovation and its impact on business and society

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Hi, and welcome to this talk on open innovation and intellectual property. My name is Marcus Holgersson, and I'm an associate professor at Chalmers University of Technology, in Sweden.
When Henry Chesbrough coined the term 'open innovation' back in 2003, he defined it as: a paradigm that assumes firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as the firms look to advance their technology. He depicted it as an innovation 'funnel', with permeable boundaries, where ideas can flow in to and out from the firm's internal innovation process. In this session, we are going to talk about the relationship between open innovation and intellectual property (IP in short). In my job as a researcher, I often talk to executives about what rôle they see for IP in open innovation. It is common for people to assume that open innovation equals innovation without IP protection. However, at this point we know that IP rights - such as patents, design rights or copyright - are important tools for enabling and managing open innovation. Our research shows that IP rights are rated more important for open innovation than for closed innovation by technology executives.
One way to think about this is to compare it with taxi services, versus rental car services. When using a taxi service, it's quite uncommon to sign lengthy agreements beforehand, you just enter the taxi, and pay the requested amount when you reach your destination. The taxi company and its drivers stay in control of the taxi throughout the entire taxi ride. When you rent the car, the situation is entirely different, typically you sign long agreements about when, where, how, and for what purposes you're allowed to use the car. The reason is that the rental car company will trust you with its valuable resource - the car - but you won't be trusted unless you sign those agreements. Without the contract, there would be no rental car services.