• Michelle Walker

Q6 & Q7: Day-to-Day IP Management


The next two questions in the original survey focused on the day-to-day management responsibilities for intellectual property assets. An earlier question showed that most of the written policies were on management tasks: proper use and display, registration of assets, and the use of non-disclosure agreements. If there are policies for management tasks I wanted to know who was in charge of making sure policies were followed. The smaller group of respondents with written policies were asked the following two questions.


Question and answer options from a survey
Q6 from 2014 IP Survey
Question with yes or no selection
Q7 from 2014 IP Survey

The 10 respondents with written policies were asked who has day-to-day responsibility for IP management in the organization. They shared the following:

  • Five (5): CEO/Executive Director or the COO.

  • Zero (0): CIO

  • Zero (0): Chair of the Board

  • Five (5): Write-in responses were: Director of Finance and Administration, Office of General Counsel, the overall organization, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, and Marketing and Operations work together to ensure IP protection.

The write-in responses reflects as much about organizational structure as it does IP management. Some organizations appear to rely on executive leadership to manage the IP and others seem to take a more broadly-distributed view of IP management. This could be related to the nature of the organization’s work. For example, IP could be a discreet asset such as a donor contact list. Or, the IP could be shared across the routine programs and services, which could lead to a more diffuse decision-making process for leadership.


Finally, although all 10 respondents were able to indicate who is responsible for IP management, only 4 indicated that this responsibility was outlined in a policy.


What Does This Tell Us

The purpose of identifying the management responsibility in a written policy is a way to pinpoint accountability. The nature of the survey didn’t allow me to follow-up and ask more details about why or why not be clear about accountability in each respondent’s organization. However, my own experience in nonprofit organizations provides some possible reasons. First, inflexible policies, particularly one that names an accountable role, could limit the responsiveness of the organization to strategic opportunities. It could also create more administrative work than necessary when making organizational chart changes, such as reorganizations or role realignment. A third option is that the collaborative nature of managerial work in nonprofit organizations requires that more than one person or one position be aware of and following the management policies for intellectual property that is in use throughout the organization. This, in particular, may explain a lot about this response because the respondents have trademarks and copyrights, which by their nature may be utilized by more than one part of the organization than a patent asset might be.



You can skip to the summary of all of the responses in the Social Entrepreneurs and Intellectual Property Management paper. Or, read through each of the blog posts tagged as Intellectual Property Data V1.0 for a more recent analysis of the data.