Korea: A Catalyst for Change, Part 3

Back in the early 1990s when IBM was reinventing itself, Korean semiconductor companies were key players in stimulating a new IP strategy for IBM. As explained in the book Open Business Models:

"A second area of initiative within IBM to generate funds has proved to be even more innovative. IBM's need to generate profits in its semiconductor business caused it to rethink its whole approach to managing its IP, especially its patents and technology. According to Jerry Rosenthal, IBM's vice president of intellectual property in the 1990s:

"Prior to Gerstner, we only licensed our patents. An impetus for us to broaden that policy came from watching the amazing pace at which Korean firms caught up in semiconductors. They didn't just want our patents, they wanted our technology–our know-how, our trade secrets–to tell them how to use our patented technologies. And while we wouldn't give this to them, many Japanese companies would and did. As a result, Lou Gerstner agreed to open up our licensing to include licensing our technology as well as our patents after seeing this."

Today, IBM is a leader in open business models and Korean firms are leaders in the semiconductor industry. One wonders if IBM would have developed its model without the Koreans, or whether the Koreans would be such world-beaters today without IBM.

Examples like those described in this series support the view that Korea punches above its weight in terms of global business innovation impact.

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