Daily Archives: October 6, 2010

Open Innovation; how should we deal with the IP?

Last week we blogged an item about an innovation competition:  “Innovation prizes can lead to paradigm shifts.” Competitions and other forms of open innovation are fast becoming the way business is done.  I started looking into this and found this blog post with some background materials “Resources for learning about open innovation” – this led me to listen to a very informative talk on TED given by Charles Leadbeater where he:

“…weaves a tight argument that innovation isn’t just for professionals anymore.  Passionate amateurs, using new tools, are creating products and paradigms that companies can’t”

He discusses how private sector researchers are embracing the notion of open innovation and building it into their business model.  Leadbeater argues that those who don’t adopt open innovation will not be able to remain competitive.  He talks about turning:

“..users into producers, consumers into designers”

This has real application!  A continuous and open two-way process between researcher and user.  However, it certainly needs some thinking about in terms of dealing with IP.  Back to the X-Prize competition and last week’s blog post.  Their website Terms & Conditions page indicates that:

“Assignment and Ownership of Submissions
By Posting a Submission, you thereby irrevocably assign, transfer, deliver and otherwise convey to X PRIZE all rights, titles and interests therein and X PRIZE accepts the foregoing assignment. Therefore, X PRIZE may, in its sole discretion and without penalty, use, copy, reproduce, prepare derivative works based upon, distribute, perform and display such information in whole or in part, in any form, media or technology known or hereafter developed as long as such use is consistent with our Privacy Policy.”

Assignment of rights!?  For all submissions!?  I found this just skim reading the fine print.  With an initiative of this kind I would have expected some words of assurance that my ideas would be safe — instead of which I read on the Privacy Policy pages, (emphasis is my own):

2.2 How We Use This Information

Pursuant to the Terms of Use, you have expressly assigned all rights in and to Submissions (as defined in the Terms of Use) to X PRIZE. X PRIZE and/or its subsidiaries may, in their sole discretion, use information submitted at the time of registration or any Submissions for marketing, promotional and any other commercial purposes and may share such information or Submissions with our promotional partners in accordance with the Terms of Use.

I have no doubt this topic will only continue to grow in importance as online collaboration and sharing becomes the norm.  I will have a look to see if I can find any information about how the likes of Syngenta or Proctor & Gamble deal with these delicate issues.  If anyone has any information on this please get in touch and let us know!