Methods and Applications
Edited by Federico Munari and Raffaele Oriani
Maria Isabella Leone, Keld Laursen 4.1 INTRODUCTION The idea that patents are a means to an end, that end being innovation (McDonald, 2004), has very recently changed. They no longer play the role of legal instruments, rather of business tools which are strategically exploited by managers for profit and competitive advantage (Rivette and Kline, 1999). As a matter of fact, many firms are now capitalizing on their previously unexploited intellectual property – also known as Rembrandts in the attic from the title of a famous book (Rivette and Kline, 1999) – by leveraging the rent-generating potential of in-house developed patents. The rising availability of patents (supply-side) is fostering the diffusion of markets for technology which creates new strategic opportunities also for recipient firms (demand-side) – the other side of the coin – by lowering technological barriers to innovation (Arora et al., 2001). Firms are increasingly seizing this opportunity and becoming more and more reliant on externally sourced knowledge to ignite the innovation funnel (Chesbrough, 2003) and fill-in the roadmap of innovation. The aim of this chapter is to present the main patent exploitation strategies which are pursued by firms in the current competitive scenario. For patent exploitation strategy we refer to those strategies which are designed around the deployment of patents in different settings and for different purposes. The rationale underlying this chapter is to understand the main features of these strategies – actors involved, timing, outcomes – which are very relevant to assist the evaluation process. Indeed, disentangling the link between patent exploitation strategies and...
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