Benefits For Open Innovation & Collaboration
Healthy IP protections promote disclosure and licensing of new technologies. IP protection gives the participants in markets such as the ICT sector the freedom to share and license their technologies on terms that make commercial sense. The trend in this sector over the past few years has been away from using IP protection strictly as a means of preventing wholesale expropriation of one’s own technologies and towards disclosing one’s own technologies through such vehicles as patent applications, to grant licences to allow others to build on one’s innovations and to take licences in return to improve one’s own products. The recent IDC report on IP use by SMEs in the ICT sector confirmed this trend: SMEs in the ICT sector reported that they use their patents more often to “foster collaboration” (46%) than simply to “block competitors” (32%). In Europe, meanwhile, 68% of senior executives in Europe told the Economist that “their top strategies for accelerating innovation over the next two years” are to increase patent licensing and other IP-enabled collaboration with outside firms (Economist, “The Value of Knowledge” (2007).) This trend towards licensing and collaboration has been borne out in practice with respect to Microsoft’s own technologies. In December 2003, the company announced that it was “open for business” to license a broad variety of its technologies to all comers, on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms – in many cases for free. Microsoft has entered into more than 500 IP licensing agreements since 2003, including a stream of licences with companies such as Novell, JBoss, Xandros, XenSource Inc, Samsung, Zend Technologies Inc and others, for them to use proprietary Microsoft technology in their products. Microsoft is comfortable in licensing its technologies widely, and is protected against unauthorized expropriation and unjustified cloning that would unreasonably interfere with its own return on research and investments in the technologies it invents, precisely because of the safeguards provided by the IP system.
[This is an excerpt from the publication released by WIPO called The Role of IP in Promoting Economic Growth through Innovation. To read the complete publication, please visit the Download menu to get a copy]