One of these lies in how the world manages the creation and ownership of inventions and ideas. A protectionist strategy to Inventhelp is designed to protect and prolong the lifecycle of existing technologies, and allow innovators to capture the earnings from their creations. In a paper published with colleagues from universities in Germany and India, we examined how this also makes it tougher for new and more sustainable technologies to be developed and adopted. That explains why now there are other approaches being used to move key sectors to more sustainable systems and end this status quo.
Electric car manufacturer Tesla, continues to be doing just that. Tesla CEO Elon Musk “shocked” the world in 2014 as he announced that his company was joining the open source movement and handing out its patents free of charge. You should be aware of the rationale here. Why would a company which had worked so hard to build up and protect its technology from the global car manufacturer competitors suddenly give its technology away for free?
Tesla initially designed a patent portfolio to safeguard its technology. However, Tesla’s concern that it might be overwhelmed once established car makers ramped up their creation of electric cars never came to pass. Instead, it saw the electrical car market stagnate at less than 1% of total vehicle sales. So Tesla changed its strategy from seeking to prevent others from building electric cars to seeking to encourage them to the market.
Portion of the reasoning here is that if more electric cars are designed, then more battery recharging stations will be built too. This would make electric cars become more visible, and a more conventional choice. Tesla believes an open intellectual property strategy can strengthen rather than diminish its position by building the size of the electric car market, and for that reason, build their own share in the total automotive market.
This kind of careful control over Invention Advice at company level, maintained by policy-level awareness, can become a powerful way to secure the same types of transitions to more sustainable technologies in other industries too.
Energy supply faces a multitude of difficulties: the depletion of natural resources; air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions; nuclear risks; and security of supply. This type of water supply sector is restricted by water scarcity, pollutants, extreme environmental events like flooding and costs associated with supplying water to communities in poor countries and remote communities. The agri-food sector, meanwhile, is under pressure to sustainably produce more food and to address malnutrition in poor countries.
For these particular industries to navigate a path around these complications, new knowledge and also the innovations that follow will likely be essential. And then in knowledge economies, intellectual property can either be an enabler or an inhibitor.
When the ownership of intellectual property is fragmented inside an industry, it can slow down technology innovation and uptake, like inside the electronics industry where multiple players own complementary patents. However, firms can instead start their innovation processes and move away from jealously guarded, internal cultures, where intellectual property can be used to briaac and prolong lifecycles. This change may see knowledge sharing that leads to accelerated innovation cycles as well as a more rapid uptake of sustainable alternatives within a sector: just what Tesla was longing for in electric vehicles.
This method to intellectual property, so-called “open IP”, is well advanced and mature within the software industry and healthcare. It has given access to life-saving medicines to millions of people, specifically in developing countries through patent pools, such as the Medicine Patent Pool. This kind of project depends on multinational pharmaceutical companies sharing their Inventhelp Invention Marketing, but small companies can also play a strategic roles in creating these new, more sustainable systems, and it’s not every about open IP.