The role of patents for appropriating (capturing) value from innovation investments has for decades been of major interest to both practitioners and academics in innovation management. Many studies have implicitly assumed that firms appropriate value through in-house creation and marketing of innovative products and services, and that the main function of patents is to protect the exclusive sales in product and service markets. We challenge this assumption in light of the variety of business models, strategies and markets now being available, including different organizational and market forms of open innovation.
A conceptual framework and typology of open innovation markets is developed, and the role of patents for appropriation is investigated in these markets among 172 Swedish technology-based firms.
The results show that the importance of patents has a skewed distribution with some firms rating patents very important and with a fat tail of firms rating patents less important. Most importantly, the results indicate that patents are enabling exchange and technology trade in various types of open innovation markets rather than only supporting vertically integrated business models. Thus patents were found to help rather than hinder the use of open innovation markets.
The paper makes two main contributions. First a theoretical reinterpretation of open innovation with a conceptualization of open innovation markets for appropriation of innovation values. Second an empirical illustration of new roles of patents for appropriating innovation values in these markets. The paper in addition illustrates the use of a counterfactual approach to questionnaire surveys, as well as the complementarities between patents and other means of appropriation.
Forthcoming in European Journal of Innovation Management