Businesses always need to think carefully about how best to use limited resources. This can be particularly acute for startup companies.

Perhaps you've developed a new platform that works perfectly in the lab but you don't have the know-how in house to scale it into a commercial product.

Or maybe you're concentrating on the first product and so don't currently have the resource to develop the follow-up product beyond a vague concept.

Or perhaps there's one step in the development chain that requires technology and expertise that you don't have and can't realistically ask your own team to provide.

These are really common scenarios.

Often the solution is to buy in some expertise.

But the question is how do you structure the deal without diluting (or maybe even losing) your intellectual property?

I am often asked to advise after the event. Perhaps the collaborative development is complete but ambiguities remain regarding the ownership of IP.

For those starting out on collaborations, my suggestion is that you try to tie this down as early as possible.

And remember, you need an arrangement that works for both sides, not only commercially but also, often, in terms of appropriate recognition.

I stumbled across this presentation published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that sets out many of the various options open to collaborating parties when it comes to ownership of intellectual property. Don't treat this as an exhaustive list. The possibilities are, of course, endless.

If you are embarking on a collaboration (or maybe you're part way through), I'm always happy to discuss the options.