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The Role of Intellectual Property Rights in Biotechnology Innovation

The Role of Intellectual Property Rights in Biotechnology Innovation

Edited by David Castle

Intellectual property rights (IPRs), particularly patents, occupy a prominent position in innovation systems, but to what extent they support or hinder innovation is widely disputed. Through the lens of biotechnology, this book delves deeply into the main issues at the crossroads of innovation and IPRs to evaluate claims of the positive and negative impacts of IPRs on innovation.

Chapter 4: Fundamentals of Intellectual Property Management

Patrick H. Sullivan

Subjects: environment, biotechnology, innovation and technology, biotechnology, law - academic, biotechnology and pharmaceutical law, intellectual property law


Patrick H. Sullivan The field of intellectual property (IP) management has developed significantly since the mid-1980s. IP has moved beyond the narrow purview of the corporation’s legal department into the broader arenas of business tactics and strategy. Any conversation about the role of intellectual property in a business or an industry, such as biotechnology, demands that participants be aware of the range of opportunities and practices that underlie IP and IP management. The rich and well-established business literature on IP management falls into two major groups: IP as a legal asset and IP as a business asset.1 These two views of intellectual property are quite different in nature, and are typically held by different sets of people within a corporation. Those who hold the ‘legal asset’ view of IP, usually attorneys or people with legal training, are interested in providing legal protection for the organization’s innovations. Their view is primarily (although not entirely) defensive: like builders of fortifications, their goal is to create a safe and strong set of walls to keep out attackers who threaten to steal the organization’s intellectual treasures. These people seek to create the strongest possible legal barriers to competitors and, with only rare offensive forays against individual infringers, position the organization behind strong defenses. On the other hand, those for whom IP is primarily a business asset tend to focus on maximizing the organization’s revenues and profits. For them, the management of IP is primarily an offensive activity: they use IP as one of several...

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