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Management article
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Reference no. 82210
Authors: Eric von Hippel
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Business Review", 1982
Length: 5 pages

Abstract

Not all ideas for new products have to come from producers; a readily available, low-cost source is their customers. Describes conditions for user innovation, and strategies for identifying consumer-developed products. When a manufacturer expresses interest in acquiring user- developed products, it must be aware of two legal mechanisms that innovators may call on to protect their innovations: patent law and trade secrecy law. The best approach for the manufacturer is to establish a strong legal position at the beginning and make sure user-innovators understand their own legal position as well.

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Abstract

Not all ideas for new products have to come from producers; a readily available, low-cost source is their customers. Describes conditions for user innovation, and strategies for identifying consumer-developed products. When a manufacturer expresses interest in acquiring user- developed products, it must be aware of two legal mechanisms that innovators may call on to protect their innovations: patent law and trade secrecy law. The best approach for the manufacturer is to establish a strong legal position at the beginning and make sure user-innovators understand their own legal position as well.

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