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Navigating the Intellectual Property Roadblocks to Open Innovation

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In an effort to incorporate outside sources of innovation into their new product acquisition programs, there has been a significant increase in the number of firms opening their organizational boundaries to external ideas. Over the past few years, large multinational companies such as Kraft, IBM and 3M have initiated active open innovation (OI) programs. The benefits to the organization of accepting new product ideas are lower research and development costs and the more rapid procurement of new products to fuel sales, and to the submitter, this can be financially rewarding if their idea is selected for product development or commercialization. Consumer products giant Procter & Gamble estimates that as many as 1.5 million researchers and scientists could contribute materially to the efforts of their own 7,500 researchers and scientists in corporate research and development. However, the economic benefits of open innovation can be diminished if organizations do not effectively manage the legal issues and logistical challenges that are presented. They include the quality/quantity of submissions, and once received, what is the most efficient way to process the submissions received?

To be successful, organizations must be able to effectively sort through the potentially high volume of idea submissions, identify and then select the few that hold the potential of a profitable return. In addition, In patent-centric industries where intellectual property (IP) serves as a necessary barrier to entry, USPTO (US Patent & Trademark Office) restrictions and other legal issues are now more pressing that ever. The America Invents Act, which was enacted in September 2012, can seriously complicate the OI process if not properly addressed.

In this paper we’ll examine the primary challenges of OI and outline how the introduction of web-based software tools can address these challenges. By integrating the best of the emerging OI practices, with a secure point of access on your corporate website, your organization will be able to deploy an IP safe portal through which to collect and manage the external submissions of new ideas, products and technologies.

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