Main Content

Casebook Credits History Find
User Innovation: Key Concepts in Brief
First published May 2022

A Video Module

User innovation is a widespread phenomenon.  

In the household sector of the economy (consisting of consumers) - nationally-representative surveys have documented that tens of millions of people annually spend tens of billions of dollars to develop novel products and services for their own use.  

90% of these individuals do NOT avail themselves of IP protections for their innovations. Instead, they reveal them for free to any firm or individual who wants to adopt them for any purpose, including commercialization and sale.

The reason for this is twofold:

(1) They developed their innovations for their own use rather than for sale. They gained benefits from their own use adequate to compensate them for their innovation development costs.

(2) Available legal protection mechanisms - patents - are WAY too expensive to make sense for household users. AND trade secrecy protection is not applicable - in general, user-developed innovations are practiced in the open rather than being hidden behind factory walls.

The 9 videos in this series each - in from 2 to 6 minutes - explain several basic concepts relevant to understanding user innovation. Video # 7 focuses specifically on explaining why user-innovators generally do not protect their innovations.

This video series may be especially useful for professors teaching intellectual property, or for anyone interested in learning about how innovations develop in the household sector.