The intellectual property

within the Kickstarter funding method



By Quentin Blanchard

SKEMA Business School

Lille, France



Currently working on an engineering oriented project with some friends, we need to figure out what is the best way to protect our idea. The funding method we have in mind is quite dangerous for the intellectual property. It is the crowdfunding. So, the aim of this paper is to determine the best protection or a crowdfunding solution.

The method use for this analysis is the comparison of several criteria from different solution to determine which one is the most appropriated (The force field analysis).

The main finding of this study is that it depends of the kind of work you want to protect. If it is about an author work (song, painting, dance, paper, etc.), the copyright appears as the best solution. But if it is not the case (engineering design or process, etc.), the patent is the way to protect your idea.

For our project (engineering oriented) the best fit is the patent. It will permit to protect ours designs and process we developed during the project development time.

Key words: Intellectual Property, Crowdfunding, Patent, Dispute, Terms of use,  Backer


In 2015, a start-up called KAZbrella presented its project on the crowd founding platform Kickstarter. Their concept was a patented reverse folding umbrella. A short time later, another similar umbrella strangely appeared. This “copie” has been realised under the name “Suprella”. This strange causality hides something more interesting, Suprella is a website detained by Hirams Trade GmbH, a German company known for that kind of machinations. Nowadays, this kind of problem is growing rapidly. The Crowdfunding platform Kickstarter defines itself as a platform with the purpose to link entrepreneurs (and their ideas) and backers, and it does not want to take part in that sort of problem.

In a project, intellectual property can be a real success factor. For the product development project, this is most of the time a key element. Entrepreneurship has now new ways to find the funds required to develop their ideas. Crowdfunding is one of them. The results can be quite impressive. For instance, (eg: Kodama, 3D printer reached their fund raise target in 6 minutes). But the protection of the idea or the design is not part of the deal you sign with Kickstarter. Usually, the intellectual property – perceived as a specific idea, process or design – is protected by patents. But patents are expensive and hard to write when the idea is just at a starting phase. Does any system exist to protect your idea when you share it on Kickstarter except the last ones?

When a project is presented on the platform and the idea is stolen, who are the stakeholders involved in the dispute? Kickstarter has defended its position since its creation with the following baseline: “Kickstarter is not linked to the project in any case and does not want to be part of any dispute”. The disputes about intellectual property are included. But what are the real implications of Kickstarter about it? How do they defend themselves inside their contracts? The document used for this analysis is the “Kickstarter terms of use”.

We will provide answers to the following questions:

–        Is there any protection for intellectual property inside the Kickstarter terms of use?

–        What are the potential risks about sharing your idea on such a platform without any protection?

–        Does any way exist to reduce those risks and what is the cost of the solutions?

For a project which chooses to finance itself by this method, the intellectual property appears as a key success factor which requires attention. Not being able to manage this issue could lead to a total failure of such a project.


To read entire paper, click here


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, at [email protected]

About the Author

Quentin Blanchard

SKEMA Business School
Lille, France



Quentin Blanchard is currently finishing his Master’s degree at SKEMA business school in Project & Programme Management and Business Development.  He has a strong academic interest in the alternatives solutions to finance a project (Crowdfunding, backing, micro loan, etc.). In addition of this, he also spends a lot of time studying the different project management methods and the application of those latest ones in projects. About professional experiences, he is working on a project related to agronomy and the food industry. He started work in the petroleum industry and moved then to the agronomic industry. He works closely today in the bakery industry to develop the market and products. He also has some expertise in 3D printing.

Quentin is not only defined by professional experiences. He has several hobbies, including horse riding, scuba diving, surfing and playing guitar. He loves to travel the world (Congo, Angola, Thailand, EAU, etc.) and discover new fields.