Intellectual Property (IP) is an issue of utmost importance to inventors and innovators that is often overlooked. In this post, we describe what IP is and provide URLs with information about different IP topics of interest to people in the (open) innovation community.
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, Intellectual Property can be divided into two categories: Industrial Property, and Copyrights (http://www.wipo.int/about-ip/en/index.html). WIPO defines industrial property to include "inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographical indications of source" and copyright to include "literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs."
For more information on industrial property and copyrights, one can look at the following two WIPO reports available in PDF format:
In general, the intellectual property right of most use to inventors and innovators is a patent. A patent is an exclusive right, of limited duration (usually 20 years from filing a patent application). granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. A point that is often misunderstood and has to be emphasized is that a patent is a negative right. It gives its owner the right to exclude others from making, using, distributing or selling his invention. It does not however give its owner the right to make, use, distribute or sell his invention.
A patent is granted only by a national patent office (such as the USPTO - United States Patent and Trademark Office) or a regional patent office (such as the EPO - European Patent Office). In the case of regional offices such as the EPO, each country has the right to decide whether to offer patent protection within its borders. What exists, however, and simplifies greatly the patent application procedure is the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) that is administered by the WIPO. Under the PCT, an applicant files a single international patent application and then requests protection in as many PCT countries as required.
More details about patent applications procedures can be found in the following URLs:
- This WIPO website has general information about PCT patent applications at the international level: http://www.wipo.int/patentscope/en/patents/
- This EPO website has information about patents and the patent application procedure at the european level: http://www.epo.org/patents/Grant-procedure/About-patents.html
- This USPTO website has general information about patents, copyrights and trademarks at the US level: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/doc/general/index.html
Intellectual Property e-Learning Resources
Readers that are interested in learning more about intellectual property can also access the following two e-learning websites:
- IP PANORAMA: WIPO's advanced e-learning site designed to help SMEs utilize and manage Intellectual Property in their business strategy.
- EPO's e-learning platform: a learning management system (KMS) providing material covering a wide-range of patent-related topics.
Resources for Patent Search (Prior-art Search)
In order to figure out whether to proceed with a patent application or not, inventors, sometimes with the help of trained IP professionals, often have to look into what has been patented in the past. This search in issued patents and published patent applications is called Prior-art Search. Resources that allow for prior-art searches are as follows:
- Freepatentsonline has a free comprehensive patent database that allows search on US, European and international (PCT) patents, as well as Japanese patent abstracts. http://www.freepatentsonline.com/search.html
- Google Patents has a free database of US patents for now. Google plans to expand its coverage to patents outside the US in the future. http://www.google.com/patents
- This EPO website has a database that allows search on European issued patents and patent applications: http://ep.espacenet.com/
- This USPTO website has a searchable database with US issued patents and patent applications. http://patft.uspto.gov/
- This WIPO website allows search for international (PCT) patent applications: http://www.wipo.int/pctdb/en/
- Intellectual Property EXchange Limited (IPEXL) has a database with more than 60 million patents from PCT, EPO, INPADOC, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia. http://www.ipexl.com/
- SurfIP, a project by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, has a database with patents and published patent applications from the US, Singapore, Europe (EPO), China, Canada, Korea, Taipei, UK, Thailand and Japan. The only problem is that for now they only support Internet Explorer. http://www.surfip.gov.sg/
- To find out more information about these and other patent search tools, one can consult the Intellogist.com reviews (http://www.intellogist.com/wiki/Category:Intellogist_Reports) or the community reports hosted on Intellogist's open wiki platform (http://www.intellogist.com/wiki/Category:Community_Reports).
Intellectual Property and Open Innovation
We conclude by providing references to useful articles, reports and presentations dealing with Intellectual Property and Open Innovation, the topic of our blog.
- Does IP Strategy Have to Cripple Open Innovation? By Oliver Alexy, Paola Criscuolo and Ammon Salter, MIT Sloan Management Review, October 1, 2009.
- Aligning global IP strategies for Open Innovation, European Industrial Research Management Association, 2009.
- IP issues in open innovation and collaboration, By Jean-Nicolas Delage, and Fasken Martineau, 2010.
- Presentation: Open Innovation and Intellectual Property, By Dr Berthold Rutz, European Patent Office, 2009.
Comments are always welcome!
The Open Innovation Team
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