Click Here to Agree: Managing Intellectual Property When Crowdsourcing Solutions

21 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2017 Last revised: 25 Jul 2017

See all articles by Jeremy de Beer

Jeremy de Beer

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Ian P. McCarthy

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Beedie School of Business

Adam Soliman

University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, Students

Emily Treen

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Beedie School of Business

Date Written: January 5, 2017

Abstract

Tapping into the creativity of a crowd can provide a highly efficient and effective means of acquiring ideas, work, and content to solve problems. But crowdsourcing solutions can also come with risks, including the legal risks associated with intellectual property. Therefore, we raise and address a two-part question: Why — and how — should organizations deal with intellectual property issues when engaging in the crowdsourcing of solutions? The answers lie in understanding the approaches for acquiring sufficient intellectual property from a crowd and limiting the risks of using that intellectual property. Herein, we discuss the hazards of not considering these legal issues and explain how managers can use appropriate terms and conditions to balance and mitigate the risks associated with soliciting solutions from a crowd. Based on differences in how organizations acquire intellectual property and limit associated risks, we identify and illustrate with examples four approaches for managing intellectual property (passive, possessive, persuasive, and prudent) when crowdsourcing solutions. We conclude with recommendations for how organizations should use and tailor the approaches in our framework to source intellectual property from a crowd.

Keywords: Open Innovation, User Innovation, Innovation, Crowdsourcing, Crowds, Intellectual Property, Copyright, Trademarks, IP, Threadless, Nintendo, Doritos, Moleskin, Ben & Jerry's

JEL Classification: M1, M10

Suggested Citation

de Beer, Jeremy and McCarthy, Ian P. and Soliman, Adam and Treen, Emily, Click Here to Agree: Managing Intellectual Property When Crowdsourcing Solutions (January 5, 2017). Business Horizons, Vol. 60, No. 2, 2017, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2947096 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2947096

Jeremy De Beer

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada

Ian P. McCarthy (Contact Author)

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Beedie School of Business ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
Canada

Adam Soliman

University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, Students ( email )

Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5
Canada

Emily Treen

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Beedie School of Business ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Colombia V5A 1S6
Canada

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