Should You Care About Patents: These days’ businesses are skilled at creating value by the management of how services and products are owned and ownership engineering.
In a business, ownership seems to be straightforward: Get a copyright or a patent when you are able to create something. This needs to be charged when used, and it is important to ensure you avoid any ambiguity about who is the owner of what.
This wisdom seems to be wrong.
Most of the savviest businesses of the world are well aware of this. SpaceX let go of patents, HBO tends to tolerate theft of the core product, Airbnb opened before it was decided whether the rentals on a short-term basis were legal or not.
Listed are strategies for ownership engineering that is not taught by any company lawyers or in any business schools.
Tolerating theft works out beneficial to the makers of different luxury goods. This ‘fake’ works out the best way to advertise and teach consumers what they need to aspire to.
Talking about HBO, most often the audience of HBO steals other people’s passwords for streaming. This has been tolerated by HBO for years. The company turned a blind eye to this theft as they saw this as an opportunity for consumer acquisition.
According to the former chairman of HBO, illegal sharing of passwords presents the brand to a larger number of people. This can lead to them getting addicted.
The same strategy was followed by Microsoft and also Disney.
Forgoing the Ownership
Businesses and their lawyers seem to have unjustified faith that legal ownership can make a difference. This is not so. There are specific businesses these days that let go of ownership, even though they can get the required protection from the law.
The key is to know when and how to deploy substitutes that are effective for ownership legally. There are some successful entrepreneurs that value secrecy more than patency.
Another strategy that can be used is to build on another platform that is already being used by everyone. This is termed as “network externalities”. The largest patent holder globally, IBM, is now earning less from licensing the patent portfolio as compared to the revenues related to ‘open source’, Linux.
Leaning to Ambiguity
You find that leaders of different businesses are not too sure of investing when the environment of ownership for their service or product is unsettled. Most of them believe that the rules of ownership are an essential requirement for entering the business markets. This is not so as legal clarity is not all that essential.
It is important to recognize that the rules of ownership are not totally complete as assumed by the people.
Ownership ambiguity can provide valuable and legitimate opportunities for businesses.
Ownership may seem uncontested and natural. But that is not so. Choosing what is given to who is up for grabbing.
The topmost strategies of the successful companies globally are forgoing ownership, tolerating theft and leaning to ambiguity.