Edited by Marian V Jones, Colin Wheeler and Pavlos Dimitratos
Chapter 10: Intellectual property protection: the case of three Swiss life science SMEs
Marcus Matthias Keupp, Sascha Friesike and Oliver Gassmann INTRODUCTION To capitalize on their investments in innovation, companies have to have the ability to appropriate rents from these investments (Cockburn and Griliches, 1988; Teece, 1986). Hence, the protection of a company’s intellectual property (IP) is an important topic in the innovation literature and IP is increasingly regarded as a source of competitive advantage for corporations (Hanel, 2005; Blind, 2009). The methods firms use to protect their IP can be divided into three main categories: juridical (legal) methods, complementary measures, and de facto protection methods. Juridical protection methods comprise the use of registrable rights (such as patents, industrial designs and trademarks) and non-registrable rights (such as copyrights and licensing agreements). Complementary methods comprise measures such as lead-time advantages, secrecy or strong distribution channels which all offer additional benefits to the customer (Teece, 1986; Hussinger, 2006). De facto protection methods comprise strategies crafted by firms themselves to protect their IP when juridical protection methods are ineffective or when it is impossible to enforce registrable rights in the institutional environment of a specific country (Gassmann and Keupp, 2007; Keupp and Gassmann, 2009). The way firms use these three methods to protect their IP and to appropriate the economic returns from it has become a subject of growing interest (Granstrand, 1999; Kingston, 2001). However, the literature has focused on how (large) multinational corporations (MNCs) protect their IP and appropriate returns from it. These questions have been studied very little in the context of small firms,...
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