Jeremy de Beer, Ian McCarthy, Adam Soliman, Emily Treen
(2017) 60:2 Business Horizons 207-217.
Tapping into the creativity of a crowd can provide a highly efficient and effective means of acquiring ideas, work, and content to solve problems. But crowdsourcing solutions can also come with risks, including the legal risks associated with intellectual property. Therefore, we raise and address a two-part question: Why—and how—should organizations deal with intellectual property issues when engaging in the crowdsourcing of solutions? The answers lie in understanding the approaches for acquiring sufficient intellectual property from a crowd and limiting the risks of using that intellectual property. Herein, we discuss the hazards of not considering these legal issues and explain how managers can use appropriate terms and conditions to balance and mitigate the risks associated with soliciting solutions from a crowd. Based on differences in how organizations acquire intellectual property and limit associated risks, we identify and illustrate with examples four approaches for managing intellectual property (passive, possessive, persuasive, and prudent) when crowdsourcing solutions. We conclude with recommendations for how organizations should use and tailor the approaches in our framework to source intellectual property from a crowd.
About the Author:
Jeremy de Beer creates and shapes ideas about technology innovation, intellectual property, and global trade and development. As an interdisciplinary scholar, he has published five books and over three-dozen peer-reviewed chapters and articles across the disciplines of law, business, political science, international relations and public policy. He is also a co-founder and director of the Open African Innovation Research network, Open AIR, which connects dozens of researchers across African countries, Canada and elsewhere to scale up innovation by easing tensions between intellectual property and access to knowledge. Also a practicing lawyer and expert consultant, he has argued numerous cases before the Supreme Court of Canada, advised businesses and law firms both large and small, and consulted for agencies from national governments and the United Nations.