How topcoder Protects Your Intellectual Property Rights During Crowdsourcing

July 17, 2014 Ben Kerschberg


One of the most important set of questions you can ask about crowdsourcing concerns the intellectual property rights of the work that the community completes for you and how Topcoder ensures those rights.

The formal answer can be found in Topcoder’ main legal documents that govern intellectual property, confidentiality, security, and indemnification. Each of these documents is attached to our White Paper entitled How To Drive Open Innovation Without Risking Your Intellectual Property and Security (June 2014) (see pages 11-29).

One of the critical questions asked of Topcoder is the manner in which it ensures ownership and intellectual property of all development. The next section addresses these important questions. Please note that nothing in this document constitutes legal advice. You should always seek the advice of counsel if you have questions.

Ownership of Intellectual Property

One of the critical questions asked of Topcoder is the manner in which it ensures ownership and intellectual property of all development. This is important with respect to the transfer of rights and the use of the client’s initial body of work. For the purposes of this blog post, the term “Developer” shall refer to data scientists, developers, and designers collectively given the fact that the term is used in our relevant legal documents.

Key intellectual property principles that pertain to crowdsourcing are:

1. All rights, including moral rights, title and interest to work product developed in the course of competitions and delivered to a client under, known as client software, shall become the property of the client, subject to payment in full of all fees.

2. As between Topcoder and community participants, neither party in the contest acquires any intellectual property or any rights that belong to the client. All intellectual property rights belong to the client.

3. To the extent not already owned by Topcoder, the Developer assigns, grants, transfers, and sets over to Topcoder all right, title, and interest throughout the world any and all Intellectual Property Rights, in developments completed during contests. Please note that [topCoder] subsequently transfers that intellectual property to the client for code that is purchased as a solution.

4. Nothing shall be construed as granting a Developer any right or license under any intellectual property right of Topcoder or the client by implication or otherwise.

5. The Developer’s submission does not include any content that violates third-party intellectual property rights.

6. The Developer’s submissions is free and clear of all liens, claims, encumbrances or demands by any third parties.

7. The Developer’s submissions have not been entered in previous contests, or won previous awards.

8. The Developer’s submission has not been published or distributed previously in any media.

Your intellectual property rights are governed not only for the protection of your own property, but also for the macro concerns that fuel these very rights. Questions about your intellectual property are never idle. The commonly stated objective of intellectual property is to promote progress. Proponents of IP rights argue that if such rights encourage innovation, then the more, the better. They reason that creators will have insufficient incentive to invest unless they are legally entitled to capture the full value of their innovation.

In 2013, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office estimated that the worth of IP in the U.S. economy to be more than $5 trillion. You intellectual property rights are much more specific than the economy writ large. With Topcoder, you are able to protect them contractually in a manner that can be enforced with a world-class global innovation partner.

If you haven’t already done so, please check out the first three posts of this 5-part series. Enjoy.

How Topcoder Retains 82% of its Clients for Future Crowdsourcing Projects (July 8, 2014)

Understanding The Crowdsourcing Community (June 30, 2014)

5 Reasons Why Topcoder is the World’s Best Crowdsourcing Partner (June 23, 2014)



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