The open corporation

I’ve been saying that the wise company will be open not only in enabling their customers to be their customer-service department and their marketing arm and their ad agency but also their product-development department. Kraft is opening itself up to outside product suggestions:

Hungry for new ideas, Kraft Foods Inc. is turning to a new source of inspiration: its customers.

The nation’s largest food company is launching a program to weigh unsolicited ideas from customers and others. The move represents a departure from past practice, said Mary Kay Haben, senior vice president at the company. In the past, she said, “we would have said, ‘Thank you, but we’re not accepting ideas.’ ”

The shift is part of a broader move toward “open innovation” being embraced by Kraft’s chief executive, Roger Deromedi, who has been under pressure to improve results.

Except get a load of the business terms:

If Kraft is interested in using your idea and the idea is protected–or protectible–by a patent or copyright, we may negotiate with you for license rights. Your compensation will be determined as a part of those negotiations.

If Kraft is interested in using your idea and it is not protected (or protectible) by a patent or copyright, but is new to Kraft and we adopt it, Kraft may, at its sole discretion, grant you a nominal award. In no case will that nominal award exceed $5000.

Another good idea killed by a lawyer. I’m keeping my recipe for Cheesey Oreos to myself, then.