Africa, Bruce Berman, Entrepreneur, intellectual property rights, Knowledge and skills sharing, Non-disclosure Agreements, Open AIR, Open Innovation, Protecting innovative ideas, Start-ups, Tech innovation, Technology hubs, Trade Secrets
The world today is flooded with good ideas. Some come from large, mature, well-organized companies. Some come from basement startups. Many are innovative. Some are brilliant. Most die a lonely death, never seeing the light of commercial success. Excerpt from Bruce Berman’s ‘From Ideas to Assets: Investing wisely in intellectual property.
A lot has been said about intellectual property (IP) and innovation in Africa. As pointed out in a previous post here, some argue that failure of tech innovators to protect IP would serve as an investment disincentive thereby affecting economic development. On the other hand, the Open AIR research network has with numerous examples, successfully put it out there that innovation in Africa is thriving in the absence of IP. Perhaps another perspective here would be to examine whether this could be true for tech innovation happening in an open environment.
For the purposes of this post, innovation is the process of bringing valuable new products to market- from idea/concept formulation stage to the successful launching of a new or improved product. In the African tech scene, the process involves a lot of idea sharing, partnering in concept development, pitching competitions, and knowledge and skills sharing. And as quoted above, Bruce Berman points out the reality that while a lot of new ideas are born, most die without ever seeing the light of commercial success. In this post, I consider whether the non-use of IP mechanisms to protect ideas in the open tech environment could be a reason why most ideas die without reaping full benefits, if any. The biggest bashers to this proposition would say outright that intellectual property rights do not protect ideas. Well, I invite you to think again.