Knowledge Management and the Contextualisation of Intellectual Property Rights in Innovation Systems

Abbe Brown, David Castle, Peter W. B. Phillips, Keith Culver, Daniela Castrataro, Tania Bubela, Shawn Harmon, Graham Dutfield, Patricia Barclay

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Intellectual property rights play a central role in biotechnology innovation. Patents, in particular, preoccupy research funding agencies, venture capitalists and governments, despite the fact that the value of patents is disputed and their impact continues to foster controversy. Perhaps more crucially to a fuller understanding of innovation, focus on instruments of intellectual property protection over-illuminates one stage of the flow of knowledge in innovation, leaving up- and down-stream phases in relative obscurity. Knowledge is an intangible asset, and is produced, tracked, managed, and accounted for in innovation systems. Yet what remains unclear, and this is problematic, are the respective roles of knowledge and intellectual property management, their relation, and the potential of a broadened perspective on knowledge flows in innovation. Participants at a Canada-U.K. workshop in Edinburgh examined the relationship between intellectual property rights and knowledge management by framing innovation in terms of knowledge management while attempting to bracket off the effects of patenting – the “Un-IP” approach. Eight critical issues arising at the heart of knowledge management and intellectual property rights were articulated, and general consensus emerged that, conceptually speaking, intellectual property rights needed to be subsumed under knowledge management as a particular class of intangible asset. At the same time, however, practical issues associated with patents continued to dominate the discussion, causing deviation away from the primary theme of the workshop, and highlighting the need to more fully explore eight emerging themes and contextualise the role of intellectual property rights.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-50
Number of pages19
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010

Bibliographical note

© David Castle et al 2010. Support for this research was provided by Genome Canada through the Ontario Genomics Institute and Genome Alberta.


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