Decentralized Production: The Need for Social Norms-Based Intellectual Property?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


  • Jurgen Poesche
  • Taina Pihlajarinne
  • Anette Alén-Savikko
  • Timo Nyberg
  • Ilkka Kauranen

Research units

  • University of Helsinki
  • University of Lapland
  • Chinese Academy of Sciences


The objective of this paper is to explore the need for and possible benefits of social norms-based intellectual property systems in the context of the renaissance of decentralized production. Innovative engineering in addition to powerful information and communications technology enables a renaissance of decentralized production. A central form of such is co-engaging production. This renaissance can already be observed in small-scale 3D printing, microbreweries, small-scale food production in rooftop greenhouses, and small-scale electricity generation with solar panels installed by users of electricity. Individuals engaging in decentralized production typically have limited resources, which may hinder them from applying registration for industrial property rights. Therefore, social norms-based intellectual property can, in some cases, be more cost efficient in the case of decentralized production. In the case of cross-border groups, social norms-based intellectual property can evolve regardless of territorially restricted national legal-based intellectual property rights. The advantages of social norms may override their disadvantages when no great economic interests are involved and the production and the need of protection are short-term by nature. The decentralized characteristic of social norms-based intellectual property brings in new people as creators of creations for which intellectual property protections exist. This can enhance creativity by broadening the cognitive and cultural diversity of the creations. Social norms-based and legal norms-based intellectual property systems are not mutually exclusive and can exist side-by-side.


Original languageEnglish
Article number1950021
JournalInternational Journal of Innovation and Technology Management
Issue number2
Early online date1 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • Engineering, information technology, innovation, inventions, social norms

ID: 28318992