I used to think that the biggest hindrance to Innovation is the legal profession. No matter how good the Innovation intention of an organisation, if it’s big enough some blighter will still insist on stuffing hopelessly distrustful clauses into contracts.
Take for example a large European tender for the supply of reference data that I spent our wet Summer preparing. Handily boiler-plated into the agreement (for a tender that involved advancing the state of the art for location data quite considerably) was a clause that states “any results…including…intellectual and industrial property rights obtained in the performance of the Contract will be owned solely by the Community”.
What? Excuse me? Where does this fit within the notion of Digital Single Market? Is Mr Barosa really going to take the clever way we harmonise data from multiple sources across Europe and “own” it? What would he and the commission do with it?
The answer is he wouldn’t do anything with it. So why bother with it. The only thing this clause does is create unnecessary distrust between tenderer and tendee. Why should I do the work if you take away the value I add?
These unhelpful elements within agreements continue to hinder innovation in digital content. Collectively we all still crook our arms around our work and slavishly protect, protect and protect our diminishing spheres of influence. But these clauses are only retained through ignorance and the slavish way we follow the traditional ways of doing things.
This is an era of open innovation. The EC need not only recognise this (as clearly they do… see Vivien Reding’s speech for a full blast at http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/09/429 ), but they need to demonstrate it and be an example to the large commercials and government agencies.
Lets see some sense guys. And we can all do our bit too. If you see one of these clauses contest it! Lets have these all removed from the EC, Government contracts and commercial contracts.
Leave the innovators of this world with the confidence that they can see beyond the current contract and sustainability becomes a reality.