Friday, June 14, 2013

Who Does Own Hackathon Inventions?

photo thanks to HackNY and Flickr
So Alan Steele on the HBR Blog Network posts "Who Owns Hackathon Inventions"?  This is an important question, and there are several ways to look at it.  Mr Steele represents what I would term the conventional wisdom as it relates to corporate ownership of IP and IP rights assignments as traditionally appear in employment agreements.  Its probably Mr Steele's job to advice corporations how to maximize their  IP assets while reducing their IP risks, and I think his article reflects that point of view.

I've organized hackathons, and participated in hackathons organized by others.

In my opinion, following Alan's advice about actions prior to hackathon participation and post participation as well would have a "chilling effect" on hackathon usefulness and participation.

Hackathons aren't just for "relaxing" - successful hackathons are full of energy and dynamism, and result in energized people who've learned new things, sharpened their skills and maybe met some new people.  Participating in external hackathons should be recommened for employees in software dev firms as part of professional development.

The IP issue is more complicated than Alan represents, as well.  Many hackathons are sponsored, and in some case the sponsors have their own agenda.   People need to keep their eyes open to this as well.

If there isn't already, there should be a basic hackathon bill-of-rights that hackathon organizers should share with participants about IP guidelines, if it is an issue for any reason.

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