Why companies must go about sharing IP with caution | Raconteur
With an increasing number of patents being awarded, especially for artificial intelligence-related and driverless technology, companies are at greater risk of finding themselves caught up in patent litigation battles.
The current situation has made it more expensive for manufacturers to bring products to market and has restricted inventors from pushing the boundaries of technological innovation says Simon Baggs, co-founder and chief executive of Incopro, a brand protection software provider.
“IP collaboration, partnerships and alliances are an ideal workaround.”
Mr Baggs cites the example of Microsoft joining the Open Invention Network, an open-source patent group, towards the end of 2018, to protect one of its long-standing competitors, Linux, from lawsuits.
Open sourcing is a language creators, investors and researchers can speak around the world. It can foster cross-pollination. “People recognise that sharing is vital for innovation. It should be encouraged as long as it doesn’t prejudice the IP rights in question,” argues Dr Sean Jauss, partner at Mewburn Ellis in Bristol.
The problem is, when it comes to sharing IP, different jurisdictions can require that an IP application is filed in the country where the original inventor resides. If several countries demand this then it make open sourcing an expensive process that ends up being weighed down by red tape.
“It forces companies to file IP applications in countries where they have no commercial interest,” says Peter Arrowsmith of Gill Jennings and Every. “International harmonisation in this area is badly needed so inventors can freely collaborate across borders.”
This won’t be easy though. Mr Baggs says IP collaboration may be important for innovation, but in some instances the use of IP by another company can damage the original creator’s reputation, such as when copycat companies in China produce cheaper and poorly manufactured imitations.
Things are further complicated because territories have varying rules on when consent from co-owners of IP needs to be obtained for another co-owner to grant non-exclusive and exclusive licences. In the United States, for example, each co-owner can exploit a patent and grant an exclusive licence without the consent of co-owners, blocking them from personally using the patent.
To encourage innovation, Mr Arrowsmith believes there needs to be a liberal attitude to the movement of ideas and sharing IP. What this would look like on a global scale is open to debate.
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