Yours, Mine, and Ours: Managing Intellectual Property in Third Sector Enterprise
Date of this Version
Effective intellectual property (IP) management is an important aspect of good governance for any enterprise, but there is little research on IP management in the third sector. This article explores the potential differences in approach to the management of IP in the third sector from both philosophical and practical perspectives. It outlines the challenges in developing, managing and protecting IP, and the many reasons why third sector initiatives may fail to adequately protect and manage IP as effectively as their for-profit counterparts. This article concludes that third sector objectives and IP protection can be reconciled in practice only by balancing diverse interests and creating effective legal infrastructures within which to reap the benefits of intellectual assets, human capital resources and strategic relationships. An appropriate solution must also align an organisation’s internal identity, external image and values and mission. Many viable strategies can be employed - the range of creative approaches to meeting the challenges of third sector enterprise is growing exponentially, becoming more diverse, and extending far beyond familiar classifications. Debate about IP law is polarised but it is hoped ‘a balanced approach can establish a common ground free of fear and ignorance and lead to productive reforms.’ (Gollin 2008) It is in the interests of individuals and organisations in the social welfare arena to be involved in this debate in order to ensure that their views are considered in informing policy choices.