Intellectual Property Strategies (IPS) - especially those patents relating to technological innovation in the wind energy industry - is full of heated rhetoric and polemics between business parties. Almost all the key players have taken a stance on whether it would be a severity risk if the industry policy makers and regulators, underestimate the IPS practises except for the team that may matter the most.
As the industry comes up with new inventions, the major players - Enercon, GE, Siemens, Vestas, Nordex and Repower - are spending millions of euros building and maintaining sustainable IP portfolios to drive proﬁt and gain the strategic upper hand, or, at the very least, bring some constructive equilibrium into the discussion.
Open innovation and a sustainable ecosystem of synergistic interactions could address a common problem - the failure of wind power developers and investors to leverage their IPS ﬁnancially by proﬁting from others use of their own technology through licensing agreements, joint ventures, partnerships, strategic alliances and other arrangements. In other words, a symbiotic relationship which could create a win/win model. Examples of such symbiosis in other sectors include Facebook, Amazon Web Stores, Google’s platforms and applications or the Aviation and Aerospace Industry partnerships.
Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) are generally designed to exclude others from using a firm's protogenic ideas and inventions. At first glance Open Innovation and IPR seem irreconcilable to each other. That is, open innovation implies a willingness to allow knowledge produced within the firm to spill over to others (possibly in with the expectation of receiving knowledge spillovers from others in return) whereas IPR protections allow innovative entrepreneurs to protect their inventions by excluding others from using that knowledge or by preventing rivals from patenting related inventions. However, IP practises can also create barriers to the development of entrepreneurial ideas and hamper knowledge diffusion and innovation.
In the wind energy industry sector the example of Dong Energy revolutionizes the industry itself. Their annual report emphasizes their need to tap into knowledge from universities, research institutes, and companies worldwide, to the extent that their experts and scientists from the Research and Development department create “virtual labs” incorporating information from outside. In May 2007, Novo Nordisk and DONG Energy together launched the first Climate Partnership in Denmark. Since then, DONG Energy has entered into several Climate Partnerships and developed a unique partnership model with a variety of Danish organisations, companies, municipalities and other business stakeholders. They all share the common goal of decreasing their activities carbon footprint, besides running economically viable and feasible investments.
So the natural question is to ask how the firms in the wind power industry could use the IPR practises in light of their engagement with sustainable open innovation models? And why do other firms, such as RES, RWE or Sinovel Wind Group who are also heavy patenters, not even mention the phrase “open innovation” on their websites?