When a company is developing a new product or technology, it's important to consider the potential risks associated with working with outside inventors. While working with inventors who are not part of the company can bring valuable new ideas and expertise, it also poses a number of risks that should be carefully managed. Here are some key risks to consider when working with outside inventors:
Intellectual property (IP) ownership: One of the biggest risks when working with outside inventors is that they may claim ownership of the IP associated with the invention. This can happen if the inventor had the idea for the invention before they began working with the company, or if they had already filed a patent application. To mitigate this risk, companies should have clear agreements in place that clearly define the ownership of IP before any work begins.
Confidentiality: Another risk when working with outside inventors is that they may not be able to keep confidential information about the invention secure. This can be a particular concern if the inventor is working with multiple companies or organizations, as they may inadvertently disclose sensitive information. To mitigate this risk, companies should have strict confidentiality agreements in place that prohibit the inventor from disclosing any information about the invention.
Quality of work: When working with outside inventors, there is always a risk that the quality of their work may not meet the company's standards. This can be due to a lack of experience or expertise, or simply because the inventor does not understand the company's needs. To mitigate this risk, companies should carefully review the inventor's work and provide feedback and guidance as needed.
Timing: Working with outside inventors can also pose a risk in terms of timing, as they may not be able to deliver the work on time. This can delay the development of the product or technology, and cause significant financial loss. To mitigate this risk, companies should have clear agreements in place that set out specific timelines for the completion of the work.
Dependency: When a company relies on outside inventors for the development of new products or technology, they are placing their company's future on the inventor's expertise, availability, and commitment. If the inventor leaves the project, it can cause serious delays and financial loss to the company. To mitigate this risk, companies should have a plan B in place and work with multiple inventors if possible.
Summarizing, working with outside inventors can bring valuable new ideas and expertise to a company, but it also poses a number of risks. To mitigate these risks, companies should have clear agreements in place that define the ownership of IP, set out specific timelines, and protect the confidentiality of the invention. Additionally, companies should be prepared for the inventor's departure and have a plan B in place.