Ensure biomimicry Incremental Innovation

The New Mission of Intellectual Property Contracts



Betty Menuet

SKEMA Business School

Lille, France



Biomimicry is the imminent new way to create sustainable innovations in the future. Its ontology is that Nature’s observation can bring us a large amount of innovative solution to face engineering design problems.  As biomimicry is changing the rules of the traditional innovation process, Intellectual Property (IP) contracts shall do the same. But it is easier said than done. Biomimicry project tends to have true advantages on the front end of innovation, in terms of performance innovation improvement and sustainability, that IP contracts don’t manage to protect efficiently yet. This paper will show that IP contracts must be adapted to the incremental and iterative upfront innovation process of biomimicry projects. If owners and contractors desire to make safe and fruitful these biomimetic innovations, they should both accept incremental and iterative modification of their property contracts and adopt a sustainable vision for a more efficient sustainable patent system.

Key Words: Innovation, Sustainable, Change, Biomimicry, Intellectual Property, Patent.


Human progress in terms of innovative technology and products is getting bigger every single day. However, sometimes even the cleverest expert, engineer, or scientist cannot come up with THE appropriate solution and the project concerned by the issue can be negatively impacted. Biomimicry is a new discipline, assuming that the simple Nature’s observation can bring us a large amount of innovative solution to face engineering design problems.

The famous proverb “Nature knows best” is the first principle of biomimicry. Studying the process of nature, for instance, designs and shapes of the environment or how an animal’s metabolism supports natural selection, enable to find and adapt ergonomics solution in our man’s world. In short, biomimicry draws its inspiration from nature to find sustainable alternatives.

The implementation of biomimetic technology has already allowed us to face a great number of engineering issues that we couldn’t solve before. Among them, the Japanese bullet train redesigned observing the kingfisher’s beak or the painless syringe copying mosquito’s sting.  (Photos by Hiromi Okano/Corbis; West Japan Railway)

A recent research realized at GOJO Inc, with the biomimicry Ph.D. program of Akron’s University demonstrates that the biomimicry is changing the rules of how goes an innovation. Indeed, the report affirms that biomimicry “can potentially expand intellectual property, increase energy savings and accelerate product innovation2. Each of these advantages has to be protected and taken into account in the Intellectual Property (IP) contracts established between the owner and the contractor on a given project. But it is easier said than done.

Moreover, the biomimicry project tends to have true advantages on the front end of innovation, in terms of performance innovation improvement and sustainability. And here is the decisive difference with historical or traditional projects.  In fact, the latter type of project set up the Intellectual Property landscape in the front end process, and potential innovations are only generated afterward, combining elements taking part in the same technological paradigm. On the contrary, biomimicry projects require to prioritize the solution discovery’s approach and then adapt the Intellectual Property contracts in order to protect the best we can this incremental and iterative process of innovation.

The biomimicry is a difficult topic to work on because there are not many data and studies for now on the subject. Our research will try to prove that Intellectual Property contracts should adapt quickly to the innovative biomimicry projects,  which could be the coming new main way to innovate in the future.


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Editor’s note: Student papers are authored by graduate or undergraduate students based on coursework at accredited universities or training programs.  This paper was prepared as a deliverable for the course “International Contract Management” facilitated by Dr Paul D. Giammalvo of PT Mitratata Citragraha, Jakarta, Indonesia as an Adjunct Professor under contract to SKEMA Business School for the program Master of Science in Project and Programme Management and Business Development.  http://www.skema.edu/programmes/masters-of-science. For more information on this global program (Lille and Paris in France; Belo Horizonte in Brazil), contact Dr Paul Gardiner, Global Programme Director [email protected].

About the Author

Betty Menuet

Lille, France


Betty Menuet 
is a 21-year-old French woman, currently involved in the Master of science ‘Project and Programme Management and Business Development in SKEMA Business School. She has been the co-founder and President of HOPE (Humanitarian Association Promoting Equity), leading a team of 90 people and 5 projects simultaneously in Vietnam, Cambodia, Senegal and France. Passionate about the discovery of multicultural environments, she travels in countries such as Colombia, The Netherlands, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia or England. She also fulfilled of a 2-month humanitarian mission in Vietnam, near to 6 orphanages in Kon Tum’s region.  Betty can be contacted at [email protected].