HOW TO PROTECT THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF I-O AND CONSULTING PSYCHOLOGY INTERVENTIONS AND GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE: SECRECY, COPYRIGHT, AND PATENT ELIGIBILITY THROUGH EMPIRICAL COMPONENTS

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Abstract

Consulting psychologists and industrial and organizational (I-O) psychologists improve the workplace through interventions that rely on psychological principles pertaining to the human resources of an organization. Developing such interventions requires considerable intellectual effort worthy of protection from competitors. Trade secrets can only protect standardized data-analysis procedures requiring minimal client interaction. Copyrighting can only protect standardized questionnaires and surveys. Patenting alone affords comprehensive and appropriate protection. However, patents are hard to obtain because it is uncertain whether I-O and consulting psychology interventions are eligible for patent protection. The recent Supreme Court decisions in 2010 and 2012 suggest that only the empirical method components of I-O and consulting interventions are patent eligible. Appropriate patents should be vigorously pursued to further the recognition of I-O and consulting psychology as a rigorous empirical science and set it apart from conventional management consulting. Moreover, patent pooling agreements among members of Division 13 and 14 should be facilitated to save I-O and consulting psychology from the specter of patent litigation.

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