Keywords: intellectual property, R&, D alliances, opportunistic learning, patents, trade secrets, organisational learning
Managing intellectual property in R&D alliances
This paper deals with the management of Intellectual Property (IP) in R&D alliances, with a focus on two key IP types – patents and trade secrets. Since IP is both inputs to and outputs of R&D alliances, the key is to simultaneously achieve two objectives – IP protection and IP generation. As research inputs, IP could be devalued by partners' opportunistic learning. Thus, IP needs to be carefully selected and protected through mechanisms such as equity arrangement, non-disclosure and non-compete agreements, and monitoring and auditing. Meanwhile, the performance of R&D alliances is mostly measured by their IP outputs. Partner firms face new issues, such as IP classification and ownership. They must decide whether to patent or keep their R&D outputs confidential. In making IP ownership decisions, partners need to consider R&D outputs' potential as the firm's core competencies and the risk of patent interference.