Innovation in the marketplace... and beyond

Just finished up the Innovation in the marketplace (half) course. Von Hippel is a great lecturer. There were three takeaways in this lecture

The Lead user

Most innovation does not happen with the people making the product. It happens with the ones using it. True. In class Von Hippel asked us how many of us had modified our backpacks to suit our needs. A lot of hands went up.

Later that night I asked my 10 year old if she was happy with her backpack and what she would do to make it better. She just blinked and gave me my next business idea. I agree with that view. (Only after a lot of deliberation.)

Democratising Innovation and Putting the breaks on patenting

Here Von Hippel takes the radical view that protecting Intellectual property does not help the common good of society. Well, did'nt they call this idea Socialism. I listened to Jay Severin several times and he insists that all democrats are socialists. (I'm an alien. What do I know?)

Von Hippel introduces the concept of ‘Free Revealing’ wherein a company or individual voluntarily relinquishes its rights to protect Intellectual Property and encourages user innovation. Coupled with Free Revealing is the concept of ‘Innovation Diffusion’. Here a user of a product comes up with an innovative addition or variation and somehow diffuses this innovation into the community. If a company freely reveals its product (and better yet supplies an Innovation Toolkit,) a creative user can innovate on it and then diffuses it into the marketplace.

I read a little 'Kant' recently.Two steps of the five steps of Immanuel Kant’s ‘Universalizability Test’ state that:

· Decide whether any contradictions or irrationalities arise in the possible world as a result of following the maxim. (In this case, this is the maxim of Free Revealing.)

· If a contradiction or irrationality arises, acting on that maxim is not allowed in the real world. (Free revealing can negatively impact the free revealer.)

There is a contradiction here and thus it seems that the Free Revealing theory is at odds with Kant’s view.
Final Thought:

In the end, it all boils down to the individual or Corporation. It is for each of them to decide whether or not to reveal their Intellectual Property. We do need laws to aid those who wish to protect their invention.

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