Intellectual property is another critical aspect of the OI paradigm. Open Innovation is closely related with co-development and/or sharing intellectual property. This bulk of intellectual property includes both knowledge, available before initiating any collaborative action, provided by participants (background IP), and knowledge, produced during the collaborative process itself (foreground IP). This calls for the need to clearly allocate rights to these assets between members of the alliance and sometimes third parties as well. This is achieved through a variety of contractual legal instruments, either beforehand (with a collaboration agreement i.e.) or after the production of any valuable results (patent/license).

With the increasing number of collaborative R&D efforts, shared IP rights have become more commonplace. Shared IP rights arise often when a collaborative project has been produced with mutual effort and either individual shares in the production process could be hardly ascertained or the parties in the development process have agreed to share their right (with a joint ownership agreement for

example). Other variations include the allocation of different types of rights between participants – one entity receives the ownership over the newly developed technology (in the form of a patent i.e.), while another – the exclusive rights to use this technology (through a patent license).