Innovations and technological developments have been recognized for their central importance for economic success and growth at least since the 1930s. Intellectual property (IP) and intellectual property rights (IPRs), such as patents, trade secret rights, and copyrights, have during more recent decades caught increasing attention, and, mainly due to various developments at macro level, IP has become an important source of competitive advantage at micro level in many industries. This has led to an increased importance of strategic IP management, and the related research field has been growing since the late 1990s. This thesis aims to contribute to this growing field, and the first purpose of this thesis is to explore and explain strategic and innovation related IP management practices, and the managerial and economic consequences of such practices. Apart from the growing importance of IP management in general, an increased focus on open and collaborative approaches for creating innovations has led to a need for new and adapted IP management skills. The second purpose of this thesis is therefore to develop managerial and economic frameworks, models, and tools to be used in the intersection between IP management and open innovation practices. These purposes are addressed in a cover paper and six appended research papers of theoretical/conceptual as well as of empirical nature, being based on interviews, questionnaires, patent statistics, and document studies.
In connection to the first purpose the results show that, while many small firms have problems with properly benefitting from the patent system, large firms have increasingly developed their IP strategies, especially their patent strategies. The purpose is then not only to appropriate monopolistic returns from innovations but also to govern various forms of open innovation. Large firms were found to in a first step increase their patenting (in terms of quantity), and in a second step focus more on selective, quality-oriented, and internationalized patenting. Additional results show that the internationalization leads to a convergence in managerial choices of output markets for patenting worldwide, in parallel with market and technology diversification. Further, a case from mobile telecommunications illustrates the role of IP management in the governance of open innovation systems. Finally, two cases from the automotive industry illustrate the IP-related problems that arise in connection to divestments and other types of disintegrations (‘IP disassembly problems’), and how IP management can mitigate them.
This leads to the second purpose, related to the development of models, tools, and frameworks for IP management in relation to open innovation. First, the thesis provides a conceptual framework of innovation openness, especially pinpointing the role of IPRs. This framework emphasizes three key dimensions of innovation openness: resource distribution, technology governance, and technology accessibility. Second, a framework for managing the IP disassembly problem is presented, enabling increased exit opportunities and decreased transaction costs. Third, a method for determining fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory royalties in licensing collaborations is developed, applicable to multilateral licensing deals.
It stands clear that contemporary IP management is not (and has never been) only about maximizing excludability. Strategic IP management must therefore be developed and integrated with technology and corporate management in order to foster success at the micro level of firms, and thereby also at macro level. Developments in IP management skills (e.g., sourcing, control, commercialization, licensing, valuation, pricing) and IP contracts will then most likely lead to increased efficiency of interorganizational technological relationships and quasi-integrated organizational forms, and thereby also to increased innovativeness and economic development.
Keywords: Intellectual property right; open innovation; research and development; innovation economics; technology management; strategy; value appropriation; licensing; governance; theory of the firm