IPRs and the relations between academic research organizations and industry
Université Paris-Sud, Université Paris-Saclay, France
This paper studies the tensions that may arise inside academic institutions because of the growing importance of IPRs. Difficulties may arise because of the very different views of the property of knowledge between the world of open science and the world of business: diffusion versus appropriation (Dasgupta and David, 1994).
Intellectual property rights (IPRs) have been a traditional tool for capturing profits from innovation (Teece, 1986). But IPRs, and especially patents, have also become important in the academic world (Mowery et al., 2001).
Two streams of literature are relevant to tackle such an issue. The first studies the relations between the academic institutions and firms. These studies have shown that theses relations do not limit themselves to a transfer of knowledge to the industry, but takes various forms (Perkmann and Walsh, 2009) with multilateral flows of knowledge (Cohen et al., 2002, Perkmann and Walsh, 2007). The second studies the use of patents as a tool for appropriating direct rents from innovation (Teece, 1986), but not only (Pénin, 2005, Blind et al., 2006), as its efficacy as a means to prevent imitation has been demonstrated to be weak (Mansfield et al., 1981), especially in the case of enabling technologies (Teece, 2018).
The relations between academic institutions and the industry have been studied from various points of view. But little attention has been devoted to the tensions that arise inside academic institutions because of the introduction of IP issues into the world of science.
Do the new goals in terms of technology transfer and IP generate tensions inside academic institutions? If yes, of what kind? How are they managed? How IPRs, and especially patents are used is these institutions as compared to the industry?
This study crosses qualitative data gathered from semi-structured interviews and responses to a questionnaire of both companies of various sizes and industries and academic institutions.
The full transcription of two waves of interviews: 13 interviews of both R&D managers inside firms and managers of technology transfer structures on the role of IP in academic research / industry relations, 14 interviews of R&D managers on the broader theme of their relations with universities and public research organizations, and 14 interviews with managers of two French public research organizations on the way they implement strategic plans.
We cross those qualitative data with 384 responses to a questionnaire, of which 57 are obtained from research institutions or intermediaries between academic research and industry in 2017 (we will use data from three successive years as some of the questions are common from one year to another while others change).
The results show that, although researchers indeed collaborate more and more with the industry, this is not true for each research team. Moreover, the integration of IP issues has not become natural for them. A significant part of the technology transfer offices (TTOs)’ activity is still to raise awareness researchers (but also their governance) of the issues of IP. The results also show a tension between objectives of direct financial returns and the use of IP to attract (or retain) industrial partners, which may lead to different priorities in terms of negotiation.
Contribution to Scholarship
This paper contributes to both the literature on university – industry relations and the literature on patents. It unveils the way questions of IP are tackled inside research organizations and show that tensions exist, and that they are increased when direct financial returns are waited from these activities. It also proposes an analysis of the role of patents, a subject already studied, but not in the case of academic organizations.
Contribution to Practice
Our results recall the complexity of the issue of technology transfer, and the role of IP in those transfers. It has consequences on both the way these issues are presented to research teams, and the way TTOs may tackle the negotiations with companies. Especially, it questions the relevance of financial goals and performance indicators.
Relations between academic research and industry are recognized as a pilar of an open innovation system (Chesbrough, 2003). The relations between the academic and scientific world and the world of business is at the core of open innovation (theme 8), and more broadly is typically at the crossroads between research, industry and society.
Azagra-Caro, J.M., Barbera-Tomas, D., Edwards-Schachter, M., Tur, E.M. (2017), Dynamic interactions between university-industry knowledge transfer channels: A case study of the most highly cited academic patent, Research Policy, 46, 463-474.
Blind, K., Edler, J., Frietsch, R., Schmoch, U. (2006), Motives to patent: Empirical evidence from Germany, Research Policy, 35, 655-672.
Chesbrough, H. (2003), Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology, Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Cohen, W.M., Nelson, R.R., Walsh, J.P. (2002), Links and Impacts: The Influence of Public Research on Industrial R&D, Management Science, 48: 1, 1-23.
Dasgupta, P., David, P.A. (1994), Toward a new economics of science, Policy Research, 23, 487-521.
Goel, R.K., Göktepe-Hultén, Grimpe, C. (2017), Who instigates university-industry collaborations ? University scientists versus firm employees, Small Business Economics, 48, 503-524.
Huang, K.G.,Murray, F.E. (2009), Does patent strategy shape the long-run supply of public knowledge? Evidence from human genetics, Academy of Management Journal, 52 : 6, 1193-1221.
Meyer-Krahmer, F., Schmoch, U. (1998), Science-based technologies: university-industry interactions in four fields, Research Policy, 27, 835-851.
Mowery, D.C., Nelson, R.R., Sampat, B.N., Ziedonis, A.A. (2001), The growth of patenting and licensing by US universities: an assessment of the effects of the Bayh–Dole act of 1980, Research Policy, 30 : 1, 99-119.
Pénin, J. (2005), Patents versus ex-post rewards: A new look, Research Policy, 34, 641-656.
Perkmann, M., Walsh, K., University-industry relationships and open innovation: Towards a research agenda, International Journal of Management Reviews, 9: 4, 2007, 259-280.
Perkmann, M., Walsh, K. (2009), The two faces of collaboration: impacts of university-industry relations on public research, Industrial and Corporate Change, 18: 6, 1033-1065.
Teece, D.J. (1986), Profiting from technological innovation: Implications for integration, collaboration, licensing and public policy, Research Policy, 15: 6, 285-305.
Teece, D.J. (2018), Profiting from innovation in the digital economy: Enabling technologies, standards, and licensing models in the wireless world, Research Policy, 47, 1367-1387.
Open innovation: The role of patent strategy and informal appropriability mechanisms
Although open innovation enhances creativity and fuels innovation, it also leads to undesirable outcomes, such as conflict over ownership of ideas and leakage of knowledge. Open innovation therefore requires that firms pay attention to appropriability in order to avoid involuntary outward spill-overs (e.g. Laursen and Salter, 2014).
One of the most studied appropriability mechanisms (AMs) is the patent (e.g., Somaya, 2012). Some authors suggest that patents give managers the confidence to engage in external relationships (Chesbrough et al., 2006). But such legal protection entails limitations. For instance, Wang et al. (2017) show that patents may reduce the formation of innovation networks and hinder the development of an open innovation model. Nevertheless, firms can apply various patent strategies (Holgersson & Granstrand, 2017) and effective patent strategies enable open innovation activities (Alexy et al., 2009). In addition, firms can use informal appropriability mechanisms, like secrecy and lead time. Some authors show these mechanisms run counter to openness (Alexy et al., 2009; Manzini et al., 2017; Wadhwa et al., 2017), while others show they can positively influence openness decisions (Drechsler and Natter, 2012) to an even greater degree than patents (Zobel et al., 2017; Freel and Robson, 2017).
Previous studies have examined formal and informal AMs in isolation or have used aggregate measures. Although it has been underscored that AMs can be effectively used together, the interplay among them has not been given due attention.
The objective of this paper is to explore (1) how combinations of patent strategies (protection, offensive and defensive) and informal AMs (secrecy and lead time) can promote open innovation through complementarity and/or substitution; and (2) to what extent these combinations improve innovative performance.
Our empirical strategy follows a two-step process. For the first step, we use fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) to explore how patent strategies and informal AMs can combine (as complements or substitutes) to explain open innovation (by distinguishing low openness –low inbound and outbound OI—, partial openness, full openness –high inbound and outbound OI). In a second step, we use a two-limit Tobit regression to evaluate the propensity of these combinations for generating innovation performance. The results helped to generate propositions.
We sent a questionnaire to 1429 top managers of biopharmaceutical SMEs, as listed in the Bioscan database. We receive responses from 220 firms (144 North American, 76 European firms). All the items were rated on a 7-point Likert scale. For instance, (1) open innovation includes two major aspects: (a) practices that allow firms to capture and benefits from external sources of knowledge (outbound) and (b) practices that allow firms to gain knowledge and ideas to commercially exploit technological opportunities (inbound). We then utilize dummy variables to distinguish low openness, partial openness and full openness; (2) Patent strategies were measured by 10 items that was developed on the basis of a thorough literature review (for exemple: We use patent to hinder competitors in applying technological development, We file for as many patents as possible in our core technological field).
In a first step, FsQCA allowed inductively identifying distinct combinations of causal variables (patent strategies, secrecy and lead time) that suggest different theoretical pathways to open innovation. In a second step, a two-limit Tobit regression, which is considered more appropriate when using fuzzy sets, estimates regression weights for the alternative configurations explaining the presence of innovative performance.
For less open and partial openness (inbound) subgroups, no AMs configurations could be identified. Nevertheless, results show that (for the two other sub-groups) (1) informal AMs and patent strategies combine in complex ways; (2) the complexity of the potential combinations declines with the degree of openness; (3) the importance of combining formal AMs (i.e., patent strategies) and informal AMs diminishes with the degree of openness. A robustness test using regression analysis confirms that informal AMs (such as secrecy) combined with limited or no reliance on patent strategies can be a relevant combination for full openness.
Contribution to Scholarship
This paper makes a contribution to existing management research on openness and appropriability. Using a configurational approach, the findings go beyond established insights by demonstrating that strong reliance on formal appropriability mechanisms is not a sufficient condition for high openness. Moreover, the particular combinations in which informal AMs need to be added with patent strategies depend on the contextual setting and the degree of openness. The combinations of informal appropriation mechanisms and patent strategies favouring openness do not necessarily bolster the performance of innovation. These suggestions can inspire scholar for future research in order to further explore the role of appropriability mechanisms in open innovation.
Contribution to Practice
Our results indicate the benefits of appropriability do not depend on the adoption of whole sets of appropriability mechanisms. Managers must make finely judged decisions: the results provide managers with specific guidance on how to protect knowledge in open innovation settings.
These issues are part of the discussions on the role of formal and informal IP mechanisms of openness and falls under track 8.1 “open innovation and IPRs,” sub-theme: 55.
Alexy, O., Criscuolo, P., & Salter, A. (2009). Does IP strategy have to cripple open innovation?. MIT Sloan Management Review, 51(1), 71.
Chesbrough, H., Vanhaverbeke, W., & West, J. (Eds.). (2006). Open innovation: Researching a new paradigm. Oxford University Press on Demand.
Drechsler, W., & Natter, M. (2012). Understanding a firm's openness decisions in innovation. Journal of business research, 65(3), 438-445.
Freel, M., & Robson, P. J. (2017). Appropriation strategies and open innovation in SMEs. International Small Business Journal, 35(5), 578-596.
Holgersson, M., & Granstrand, O. (2017). Patenting motives, technology strategies, and open innovation. Management Decision, 55(6), 1265-1284.
Laursen, K., & Salter, A. J. (2014). The paradox of openness: Appropriability, external search and collaboration. Research Policy, 43(5), 867-878.
Manzini, R., Lazzarotti, V., & Pellegrini, L. (2017). How to remain as closed as possible in the open innovation era: the case of Lindt & Sprüngli. Long range planning, 50(2), 260-281.
Somaya, D. (2012). Patent strategy and management: An integrative review and research agenda. Journal of management, 38(4), 1084-1114.
Wadhwa, A., Bodas Freitas, I. M., & Sarkar, M. B. (2017). The paradox of openness and value protection strategies: effect of extramural R&D on innovative performance. Organization Science, 28(5), 873-893.
Wang, T., Libaers, D., & Park, H. D. (2017). The Paradox of Openness: How Product and Patenting Experience Affect R&D Sourcing in C hina?. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 34(3), 250-268.
Zobel, A. K., Lokshin, B., & Hagedoorn, J. (2017). Formal and informal appropriation mechanisms: the role of openness and innovativeness. Technovation, 59, 44-54.
Investigating the Role of Core-Peripheral Technologies in Firms’ Knowledge Buildings under Consensus-based Standardization : A Longitudinal Study of the Citation Networks of Standard Essential Patents in the Mobile Telecommunication Sector
1Yokohama National University, Japan; 2The University of Tokyo, Japan; 3National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan
Particularly in the ICT industries, new entrants have risen up with nurturing their own technologies by taking advantage of collaborative standardization and strategic patenting of critical technologies. Under such an open environment, even leading incumbents will lose control over their own technologies because of technology spillover and sharing between firms.
For the problem of such technological outbound, a firm who has lots of SEPs (standard essential patents) can strengthen its position (Bekkers, et al., 2002; Rysman & Simcoe, 2008). Yet, patenting as well as standardization also invites the problems of free-rider and technology spillover (Kang & Motohashi, 2015).
Nevertheless, once a firm obtained a leading position in critical technologies (“effective innovations”), that firm can hold significant influences on competitors because these technologies are frequently used by other firms (Yayavaram & Ahuja, 2008). Particularly for complex system innovations, such a firm combines core and peripheral technologies (Granstrand, et al., 1997) with searching a wide scope of technologies bases beyond their existing technology domains within and across firms (Rosenkopf & Nerkar, 2001; Yayavaram & Ahuja, 2008). Such capabilities can help the firm preserve its technological position even under collaborative standardization which encourages technology spillover and sharing between firms.
Prior researches pays little attention to the role of a wide scope of technologies in generating effective innovations. Thus, our knowledge is still not sufficient to understand how firms dynamically maintain their capabilities for effective innovations under collaborative standardization by which diverse technologies are developed and shared across firms.
This study aims to complement the research gap by revealing how firms build their knowledge for effective innovations. Particularly focusing on core and peripheral technologies (Weng & Daim, 2012), we assume that there are several fundamental interfirm differences in knowledge development based on the acquisition and sharing of technologies.
This study uses quantitative research methods by examining the flows and networks of technologies within and across firms. We analyzed the data by the UCINET network analysis tools. First, we investigated the longitudinal data of patent forward citations of SEPs by proprietary patents between firms. Second, we evaluated the trends of firms’ levels of knowledge (densities of knowledge networks) by SEPs and technology specifications, which are regarded as the source of effective innovations. Finally, associating with these results, we chronologically examined how firms build knowledge for effective innovations by citing core and peripheral SEPs within and across firms.
A lot of studies on collective standardization, innovation, and related firm strategies have been conducted for the global telecommunication sector (e.g., Bekkers, et al., 2001). Based on the accumulated knowledge, we can examine the dynamism of firms’ knowledge and innovations drawing on relatively reliable data from standardization organizations (3GPP and ETSI) and the US and European patent offices.
After the classification by patent families units and data cleansing, we obtained the data of 25,292 declared SEPs linked with technology specifications from 1990 to 2016 (the US and European patents) from the ETSI website in Oct., 2017. Further, we extracted the data of 20 major firms which account for more than 89 percent of the total SEP activities. At the same time, we classified and examined SEPs by the five large classes of technology specifications downloaded from the 3GPP.
For proprietary patents, we downloaded the all proprietary patents (the US and European patents), about 830,000 published patents, of the 20 firms from the Espacenet patent database without limitation on time period in May, 2017. Then, by integrating the database of proprietary patents with that of SEPs, we generated the data of 114,160 patent forward citations by proprietary patents from SEPs.
The results reveal that leading incumbents and technology providers (e.g., Qualcomm, Nokia, Ericsson) have cited both core and peripheral technologies with good balance from their own and other firms (about 50-70% of citations from core technologies) and accumulated high densities of knowledge. Accordingly, these firms have been cited by other firms with high frequency (more than 50,000 times in total).
In contrast, new entrants (e.g., Samsung, LG) and the Japanese firms have actively increased the number of SEPs with drastically increasing the citations of core technologies from other firms (more than 70-90% of citations from core technologies). Nevertheless, these firms have accumulated low densities of knowledge, and accordingly have been far less cited by other firms (less than 30% of those of leading incumbents and technology providers).
Contribution to Scholarship
The study contributes to scholarships roughly in two senses. First, the study contributes to revealing the criticality of peripheral technologies in firms’ knowledge accumulation for effective innovations. Firms cannot generate effective innovations by simply expanding their knowledge base in volume by focusing on core technologies.
Second, this study suggests that even under collective standardization which helps firms to exploit diverse technologies, the dynamism of knowledge development through the combination of core and peripheral technological knowledge will expand the interfirm differences in knowledge level for effective innovations. Firms with a small size of knowledge base, such as new entrants, are more likely to focus on core technologies than leading firms. However, such a strategy focusing on core technologies, in the long run, can hinder firms from building knowledge for effective innovations and thus entrap the firms “in the cage of infertile monotonous knowledge.”
Contribution to Practice
This study’s analytical perspective on the dynamism of firms’ knowledge and innovations will expand practical debates on technology strategies particularly for complex systems by multiple firms (e.g., IoT). Our results will help practitioners understand the critical factors of technology development and knowledge building under an open environment by collaborative standardization.
Drawing on the data of IPs, this study tackles the problem of firms’ innovation and knowledge strategies related to the industrial and societal adoption and diffusion of systemic technologies thorough collaborative standardization. The attempt will contribute to the conference theme, particularly “Theme 8: Open Innovation (Track 8.1). ”
Bekkers, R., Duysters, G., and Verspagen, B. (2002). Intellectual property rights, strategic technology agreements and market structure. Research Policy, 31(7), 1141-1161.
Bekkers, R., and Martinelli, A. (2012). Knowledge positions in high-tech markets. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 79(7), 1192-1216.
European Commission (2014). Patents and Standards, European Union.
Granstrand, O., Patel, P., and Pavitt, K. (1997). Multi-technology corporations, California Management Review, 39(4), 8-25.
Kang, B. and Motohashi, K. (2015). Essential intellectual property rights and inventors’ involvement in standardization. Research Policy, 44(2), 483-492.
Rosenkopf, L. & Nerkar, A. (2001). Beyond local search. Strategic Management Journal, 22(4), 287-306.
Rysman, M. and Simcoe, T. (2008), Patents and the performance of voluntary standard-setting organizations. Management Science, 54(11), 1920-1934.
Weng, C., & Daim, T. U. (2012). Structural differentiation and its implications. Journal of the Knowledge Economy, 3(4), 327-342.
Yayavaram, S. and Ahuja, G. (2008). Decomposability in knowledge structures and its impact on the usefulness of inventions and knowledge-base malleability. Administrative Science Quarterly, 53, 333-362.
Emergent Partnerships and Planned Competition: On the Role of IP and Open Innovation in the New venture Creation Process
In this study, we base ourselves on the theory of effectuation, representing emergent strategy, and causation, representing planned strategy, in entrepreneurial decision-making to study IP strategy and open innovation in the context of new venture creation.
We base ourselves on the theory of effectuation and causation, existing work on IP strategy and open innovation.
Effectuation is associated with exploration, using available means, partnerships and principles of affordable loss. Causation processes are based on goals, competitive analysis and expected gains. Causation is therefore typically likened to planned strategy whereas effectuation is raised as a model of how expert entrepreneurs actually create ventures through emergence (Sarasvathy, 2001; Fisher, 2012; Sarasvathy & Dew, 2005).
Work on entrepreneurial strategy formation typically categorizes IP decisions as driven by causation (Alvarez & Barney, 2007; Reymen et al., 2015). In essence, this work associates IP with competitive analysis and closed innovation rather than collaboration through partnerships. Work on IP strategy has traditionally supported this conceptualization, but is increasingly realizing non-traditional functions of IP, e.g. pertinently as a facilitator of open innovation (Blind, Edler, Frietsch, & Schmoch, 2006; Chesbrough, 2003; Hagedoorn & Zobel, 2015).
It is unclear how IP is used in the venture creation process, and how it relates to open innovation processes through effectuation and causation. Previous literature raises somewhat contradictory findings and expectations, warranting a re-examination of the decision-logics driving IP decisions in new venture creation.
What kind of decision-making logics drive the making of IP decisions throughout the venture creation process and what, subsequently, is the role of these IP decisions in ventures’ closed and open innovation efforts?
A qualitative research design was used. Based on a multiple-case study design of 8 technology based startups, decision events and attached decision logics were analyzed at a within-case and cross-case level. Data were analyzed through a combination of closed an open coding. Open coding was used to identify decision events, including IP decisions. Closed coding based on prior work on effectuation and causation, i.e. Dew, Read, Sarasvathy, and Wiltbank (2009), I. M. Reymen et al. (2015) and Sarasvathy (2001), was used to identify the decision logics per decision.
A multiple case study was used, based on 8 digital technology-based startups. Within the sampling framework (i.e. digital technology-based startups), breadth was sought to achieve diversity of perspectives. Data collection took place through semi-structured interviews with startup founders, executives, employees and external stakeholders (n=30, may be extended). Additional data was collected in the form of available communications through websites, blog posts, media articles and where provided, internal communication.
This empirical material was transcribed and coded resulting in an overview of decision events and the decision logics involved in their resolution. By analyzing at the within-case level, case narratives could be drawn up detailing dynamics in logics over time. Cross-case analysis shows patterns in the use of IP and the role of IP in different innovation processes across firms.
Results show an intermingling of causation and effectuation logics across the development of the venture, and as relating to different IP decisions. In accordance with earlier research, effectuation logics seemed especially prevalent in early decision events (Reymen, Berends, Oudehand, & Stultiëns, 2017). Early decisions around IP were often based on means-oriented and partnership-based reasoning, meaning they reflected personal preference, experience and input from close network contacts as a basis of judgement and aimed to draw in contributions from a variety of partners. These decisions reflected the experimental, emergent nature of venture creation under processes of effectuation by being mainly concerned with widening the venture’s scope (Reymen et al., 2015), preventing path dependence, expanding the options of the firm and engaging a broad range of potential stakeholders. Examples include broad initial patent filings for marketing and collaboration purposes and open source software to build a community.
In subsequent decisions, the venture narrowed its scope, using marketing patents increasingly as a protective mechanism, based on competitive positioning rather than partnership formation (i.e. causation), and drawing a tighter distinction between open and closed source to enable simultaneously more partnership formation (effectuation) as well as clearly delineating the startup’s competitive stake (competitive analysis, causation).
Contribution to Scholarship
This study contributes to a more fine-grained understanding of the role of IP in closed and open innovation processes in new venture creation. It challenges the assumption in entrepreneurship research that IP is used chiefly as a competitive positioning tool, and that IP decisions are made through causation logics. Additionally, this study lends a process perspective to the study of IP in open innovation, challenging an implicit planning perspective in writing on IP strategy. By showing breadth in the IP decisions under consideration and interdependence in their respective functions over time (consider e.g. the relationships between open source, patenting and secrecy), this study contributes to a more holistic understanding of the role of IP and a more emergent perspective on the creation of IP strategy.
Contribution to Practice
This work contributes to practice by lifting uses of IP throughout the early development stages of new ventures. It raises the role of IP as a tool in broadening and narrowing the firm's scope and in facilitating partnerships as well as competitive positioning based on the venture's needs and development at different points in time. It thereby helps practitioners in using IP as a facilitator of open and closed innovation processes and making versatile, multi-purpose IP decisions resulting in a flexible IP strategy.
This study attempts to bridge the gap between conceptions around IP and its practical uses in new venture creation. In doing so, it contributes to a shared challenge across academia, practice and society, i.e. how to understand and use IP constructively across an increasingly open landscape.
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Chesbrough, H. W. (2003). The logic of open innovation: Managing intellectual property. California Management Review, 45(3), 33-58.
Dew, N., Read, S., Sarasvathy, S. D., & Wiltbank, R. (2009). Effectual versus predictive logics in entrepreneurial decision-making: Differences between experts and novices. Journal of Business Venturing, 24(4), 287-309.
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Reymen, I. M., Andries, P., Berends, H., Mauer, R., Stephan, U., & Van Burg, E. (2015). Understanding dynamics of strategic decision making in venture creation: a process study of effectuation and causation. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 9(4), 351-379.
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