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  • Who owns the Intellectual Property in a hackathon?

    Who owns the Intellectual Property in a hackathon?

    Over the past few years, hackathons have gained the world and become more and more popular. Big companies went “all in” in the new technological idea and many renamed startups have sprung up from those events.

    You can imagine that in a place where so many ideas, projects, and creativity are seething at the same time, one question is often asked: Who owns the Intellectual Property?

    In a brief definition, Intellectual Property is the term that refers to the law area which deals with the intellectual productions and the profits that their authors and/or owners receive through them.

    Knowing this, who rest on the laurels of the projects developed during a hackathon: the participants or the organizing company?

    It’s almost automatic to deduce that the rights for the creations are of the participants. And that’s how things should work, but the situation is a bit more delicate. Some companies make the mistake of seeing the hackathons as a one-way path and end up pushing the participants into tendentious contracts, the famous “Changing pizza for code”.

    In addition to being a behavior outside of what we understand as professional and ethical – which alone should be a good reason not to do -, this type of attitude goes against everything that the hackathon universe represents. After all, the freedom to create, develop and share knowledge cannot be compromised by regulations that go against this “free spirit.”

    Innovation in hackathons presupposes freedom to exchange ideas and co-create. Is fundamental to the success of this innovation model, for the groups, to be able to create and evolve their projects without the fear of having their ideas stolen.

    Henrique von Atzingen, director of IBM’s THINKLab and BLUEHACK organizer

    The gain for both sides (organizers and participants) goes beyond networking, discoveries, possible awards and innovative solutions. Anyone who participates in a hackathon, regardless of how leaves the event a totally new person.

    Besides that, there’s the “image of the organizers” element. Focusing on the appropriation of the ideas and projects developed during the hackathon that your company promoted will only denigrate you in the participant’s community.

    If word-of-mouth is already fast, imagine how many characters it would take for a participant who felt injured to end up your image! It is not worth the time and money spent on processes let alone the rejection of a community that could leverage your company.

    The intellectual property of what was developed during a hackathon is under the command of the intellect that generated it. It is up to the participants to accept or not the proposals of the organizers on the post-event.

    Want a friend’s advice? Freedom is always the best choice, because it gives you quality productions, avoids possible problems and guarantees loyal partnerships.

    You won’t regret!

    Photo by Headway on Unsplash

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