Sound advice on dealing with intellectual property

You should think of intellectual property as a flexible asset class that can help your organization in a broad range of ways, according to Harvard Law School Professor John Palfrey in his book Intellectual Property Strategy. Whether your organization is a for-profit business or a non-profit institution, you should give special consideration to strategies of openness rather than exclusion, especially in the information context.

The author goes on to provide four recommendations on the strategic approach which your organization should take to intellectual property:

  1. Consider intellectual property to be an asset class;
  2. Be open to what your customers, competitors and others can offer you in terms of intellectual property;
  3. Intellectual property is more valuable for creating freedom of action than as an offensive weapon against others;
  4. Be creative and flexible in what you do with your intellectual property.

Traditional approaches to intellectual property have been challenged by developments over the past 20 years with the open source movement and the proliferation of Internet services such as YouTube and file-sharing services which skate around the boundaries of intellectual property legitimacy but which copyright owners have been unable to shut down because of their immense popularity and power. Rigid enforcement of rights has become a political act likely to engender community ill-will; hence the wisdom in the author’s advice to use openness rather than exclusion as a guiding policy.

In my view the author has succeeded in explaining intellectual property in language which can be understood by anyone. The author has his own views, but manages to steer clear of controversy. The book is short enough to maintain the reader’s interest, and it is pitched at about the right level for an executive who needs to understand what intellectual property is and why it is important.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *