Intellectual property (IP) decisions will be made on a caseby-case basis, but there are some good reasons for insuring your IP is protected over and above preventing competitors from copying your products, technical processes or services. IP protection can also help you create a corporate identity through a branding strategy; negotiate licensing, franchising and other IP-based contractual agreements; increase the market value of the business; acquire venture capital and enhance access to finance; and obtain access to new markets.
Recently these has been some notable exceptions to the rule. Tech superstar Elon Musk’s announcement that he is making the IP for his Tesla electric vehicles available to his competitors was unusual – whether that works out for the better or worse for his company only time will tell. “Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal,” said Musk.
Change agency Borderless Productions managing director Dean Easterbrook also points that social movements are often characterised by open-source IP. He points to the ‘It’s Not OK’; anti-violence campaign, which has had high visibility throughout the country. “People concerned about violence can tailor that campaign through the online toolkits and resources to meet the needs of their own community. For example in Paeroa they have ‘It’s Not OK’ posters up which feature the head boy of the local school and the guy from the service station.”
A highly effective marketing model, the ‘It’s Not OK’ campaign is a lesson on how to achieve broad visibility which can be applied to social enterprises. “The question is: how do you get people to see themselves in your campaign?” says Borderless CEO Qiujing Wong.