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'Open innovation' era calls for solid IP licensing strategies

The term "open innovation" is not new to anyone in the technology sector. It reflects an attitude shared by many that traditional strategies related to intellectual property management don't always hold the water they once did. There is still a place for secrecy. Just ask Apple if you doubt that. But open innovation embraces the idea that greater, and perhaps speedier benefits come from collaborating with parties internally and externally.

Of course, that does not mean that protection of IP rights goes out the window. Rather, what it means is that to derive the greatest value from intellectual property, rights holders owe it to themselves to fully explore all their strategic options. Do you hold them? Fold them? Or do you spur new technology advancements through the calculated use of licensing?

Getting to win-win license agreements

Astute business leaders know that IP assets can be exploited in many ways. In this post, we look at just one – basic licensing.

Whichever way you obtain access to IP rights, through direct application, business acquisition, collaborations or otherwise, deriving the greatest benefit from the assets depends on first understanding the different licensing options available. Those with deep experience in this field will likely agree that there are three broad types of licenses. These include:

  • Specific licenses: these would include such things as authorization to duplicate or distribute a copyrighted piece of work.
  • Encompassing licenses: this license type might extend rights of all kinds. It might be used to foster the reproduction, use, marketing and sale of products derived through technology that is covered by any of the various forms of IP protection.
  • Standards licensing: this is a license form that a mixed enterprise group might establish to make sure different devices by manufacturers in the group can interface with each other smoothly.

Next, successful win-win scenarios require negotiators who fully understand the interests of all the parties involved. Solid preparation that considers all the elements of all the parties makes it easier to reach agreement based on the value that each side can deliver.

All that preparation work can be complicated and take months, but it is crucial to achieving an effective outcome on an agreement. And the ultimate realization of the win-win is when the license results in the actual transfer and application of the IP protected material from licensor to licensee.

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