Every firm has an IP unit that is looking to protect and harvest the ideas generated within the organization.
Patent Trolls are infamous in software and other high tech areas.
Why then are users willing to collaborate with firms and allow them to have the IP?
In his discussion of Lead users and in several articles, Eric von Hippel has suggested that the most demanding users stand to benefit by supplier advances so much that they are willing to effectively grant them free IP.
A recent blog addresses this issue with breakfast cereal:
The issue is not quite as stark in the world of free and open source software (“FOSS”), as no one is reaping the tolls, although participants are again giving up potentially valuable IP.
The following article in Linux.com discusses von Hippel’s contribution to our understanding of FOSS:
For a short time I was head of NSD at a software firm and was amazed at extensive customer contributions by secretive firms who otherwise carefully guarded their IP. Collaboration happens!