Design, Knowledge Exchange and Intellectual Property

G. Follett, M. Marra (Lead / Corresponding author), S. Conran

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The paper looks at the relationship between Design, Designers and IP
(Intellectual Property). There is almost no use of IP within the design
community. The preferred business model has always been first to market.
This paper explores aspects of IP in relation to Design:
• Is creating IP collaboratively with design as a core element, an
effective model for Knowledge Exchange in business?
• Is this a better strategy for design driven IP than first to market?
• Can this deliver economic benefit and sustained development in
Scottish businesses?
• Should we adopt the Californian model of university research IP
transfer to business?
In addition there is a scale issue with design businesses, usually below 10
employees, and many function as micro-businesses or lone traders. Even
where there are huge corporates (such as Apple and Dyson) defending their
IP through the courts has proven to be both expensive and something of a
pyric victory. Where judgments are in support of the legal claim they have
seldom in reality resulted in any behavioral change. This raises a whole
series of issues:
• How does a business engage with design to build IP?
• Do small companies have the resources and knowledge to
successfully challenge IP breaches?
• How does a research project unpack these issues?
• Can applying research build new models of engagement with design
that gives value to IP at the start of a product journey?
These questions are being posed, and answers sought, by Design in Action an
Arts and Humanities Knowledge Exchange hub for the creative industries.
This issue has been little explored with literature reviews revealing a dearth
of papers in the area. The knowledge exchange hub looking specifically at IP
for the creative industries has also found a lack of literature in the field.
What little information is available in the public domain are reports of
litigation; yet even these fail to indicate how and if these challenges can be
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Contemporary Economics and Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


  • Intellectual Property
  • Knowledge Exchange
  • Design
  • SMEs

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