This article addresses one of the many unexplored challenges associated with closing open innovation—the intellectual property (IP) disassembly problem. This is the problem of disentangling and allocating IP rights at the closing or termination of an open innovation project or at the exit of one or more of the vital participants. IP disassembly problems may be mitigated (but not eliminated) through contingent contractual provisions at the IP assembly stage. Moreover, provisions can be made at both the assembly and disassembly stages to prepare for and benefit from subsequent IP reassembly in a sequence of project generations over time. An overriding implication is that IP management addressing both IP assembly and disassembly problems is necessary (although not sufficient) for effective governance of open innovation.
Published in Research-Technology Management, September-October, 2014.