Anne Flanagan, Federico Ghezzi and Maria Lillà Montagnani
Mariateresa Maggiolino and Maria Lillà Montagnani
Driven in part by the enthusiasm spurred by the Open Innovation (OI) movement, individual patentees and larger corporations holding valuable patent portfolios have started expanding access to those patents. Whether in the open source software environment or in the fields of biosciences and green technologies, in recent years patent holders have been uniformizing the terms and conditions of their pledges in order to facilitate the access to and use of their patents. Patent pledges have thus become the keys to open patents. However, the way in which patented knowledge is opened varies according to the pledges and covenants that are adopted. Some pledges have contributed to create large “clubs of patentees” that are reciprocally committed to share their patents, but are closed toward the non-members. Other pledges have set the grounds to make patents open toward whoever is interested in them, on the main condition that this unknown re-user will make her own follow-on innovation be equally open. By analyzing the characteristics of OI systems and the cases of patent pledges that open patented inventions, this chapter seeks to illustrate how and when patent pledges fit within the wider realm of open innovation.