One of these lies in how the world manages the creation and ownership of inventions and concepts. A protectionist method of Invent Help Patent Invention is designed to protect and prolong the lifecycle of existing technologies, and enable innovators to capture the profits from their creations. In a paper published with colleagues from universities in Germany and India, we examined how this also makes it more difficult for new and more sustainable technologies to be developed and adopted. That explains why there are now other approaches being used to move key sectors to more sustainable systems and end this status quo.
Electric car manufacturer Tesla, has been doing just that. Tesla CEO Elon Musk “shocked” the planet in 2014 as he announced that his company was joining the open source movement and handing out its patents free of charge. You should understand the rationale here. Why would a company that had worked so hard to produce and protect its technology from the global car manufacturer competitors suddenly give its technology away free of charge?
Tesla initially developed a patent portfolio to safeguard its technology. However, Tesla’s concern that it will be overwhelmed once established car makers ramped up their creation of electric cars never arrived at pass. Instead, it saw the electrical car market stagnate at less than 1% of total vehicle sales. So Tesla changed its strategy from attempting to prevent others from building electric cars to seeking to encourage them into the market.
Area of the reasoning here is that if more electric cars are made, then more battery recharging stations will likely be built too. This could make electric cars become a little more visible, and a more conventional choice. Tesla believes an open intellectual property strategy can strengthen as opposed to diminish its position by building the size of the electrical car market, and consequently, build their own share in the total automotive market.
This kind of careful control over Inventor Information at company level, maintained by policy-level awareness, can be a powerful method to secure the same forms of transitions to more sustainable technologies in other industries too.
Energy supply faces a range 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 fixed by water scarcity, pollutants, extreme environmental events such as 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 also to address malnutrition in poor countries.
For these industries to navigate a path around these complications, new knowledge and the innovations that follow is going to be essential. And in knowledge economies, intellectual property can either be an enabler or an inhibitor.
In the event the ownership of intellectual property is fragmented in an industry, it can slow down technology innovation and uptake, including within the electronics industry where multiple players own complementary patents. However, firms can instead open their innovation processes and depart from jealously guarded, internal cultures, where intellectual property is 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 dreaming about in electric vehicles.
This method to intellectual property, so-called “open IP”, is well advanced and mature inside the software industry and healthcare. It provides given access to life-saving medicines to huge numbers of people, particularly in developing countries through patent pools, including the Medicine Patent Pool. This kind of project relies on multinational pharmaceutical companies sharing their New Ideas For Inventions, but small companies can also play a strategic roles in creating these new, more sustainable systems, and it’s its not all about open IP.