Rethinking IP ownership in the context of open innovation
PhD student: Mrs Dr A. Gorbatyuk
Promotor: Mrs Prof G. van Overwalle
Duration: 1/10/2012 - 30/9/2016
PhD defence: Leuven, 31/5/2019
Over the last decades, two major, closely related trends can be observed in the area of innovation. First, open innovation has gained significant popularity. It refers to a model whereby public and private entities increasingly rely on external partners and use external knowledge throughout their innovation process. Second, firms increasingly engage with international external partners based on international collaboration agreements. With the emergence of these trends the allocation of intellectual property (IP) ownership has become more complex. Basically two legal regimes for joint inventorship are being applied. On the one hand, many legal regimes impose co-ownership of IP as the default regime. Co-ownership represents a fair distribution of ownership, guarantees equal rights, and honors the effort of both inventors. It may nevertheless lead to legal uncertainty and high transaction costs in international collaborations, as several legal systems prescribe the consent of the two owners in case of sale, licensing and maintenance of co-owned IP rights. On the other hand, parties often prefer contracting out of the default regime and opt for sole ownership combined with a license to the other inventor. This regime provides more flexibility, but implies even higher transaction costs. This research aims (1) to further our understanding of IP ownership; the differences between co-ownership and sole ownership regimes from a theoretical as well as from a practical perspective and (2) to reflect upon an IP ownership regime which best suits (a) open, international collaboration and (b) general principles of law.
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