Beating the Murphy’s law in IP and circular economy 2023-01-17

Wagrin et al (2023) provide an account of what we need to think about when when attempting to use IP as a tool for CE. Here is a few highlights, with some of our related thoughts.
Not knowing that intellectual property (IP) can even be a tool towards more circularity, i.e.  immature IP cultures, is the first major challenge. This would among others, also cause a lack of strategic thinking about the IP – so things can go wrong at the very beginning. IP system is a tradeoff between rewarding the IP holders and having the function of invention dissemination function (since the text of the patent comes into public domain).
However, then the weaker the IP enforcement potential is, the more opportunity for unintended knowledge spillovers and involuntary leakage. There are also several other challenges related to IP management – such as having a great collaboration idea, which could bring to life an interesting CE innovation, support the transition to more circularity, and make a great circular business case, yet then when it is time to negotiate the IP with other partners, one falls short. Consequently, the opportunity potential might never get materialized, or the full potential of the opportunity is seized by your collaborators.

The circular economy is also tricky as the various R strategies (such as remanufacture) include manipulation of the product, and can lead to unintended infringements. We have many examples of this, from the automotive industry to aviation, and to printers. Although you might have a great CE idea, something just might go wrong, should you not pay sufficient attention to IP.
Of course our selection isn’t reflecting all of the „what could go wrongs”, i.e. all of the challenges, which are especially relevant in todays collaborative economies. Wagrin et al (2023)  provide 12 key CEIP challenges: four of them are intra-organisational, five are inter-organisational and three are related to the ecosystem. If you are interested in more, check Wagrin et al (2023) here



Tamara Besednjak Valič

Faculty Of Information Studies In Novo Mesto



Virág Szuák

Pannon Business Network Association