Open innovation and intellectual property rights: How do SMEs benefit from patents, industrial designs, trademarks and copyrights?

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to study the relationship between open innovation and the use of intellectual property rights (IPRs) in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The authors consider patents, industrial designs (i.e. design patents in the USA), trademarks, and copyrights. Design/methodology/approach: The relationships between open innovation, IPRs, and profitability are tested with random-effects panel regressions on data from the Spanish Community Innovation Survey for 2,873 firms spanning the years 2008-2013. Findings: A key result is that SMEs do not benefit from open innovation or from patenting in the same way as larger firms. Furthermore, the results show that SMEs profit in different ways from IPR, depending on their size and the corresponding IPR. Research limitations/implications: The different impact of IPRs on the efficiency of open innovation in firms of varying sizes highlights the importance of further investigation into IP strategies and into open innovation in SMEs. Practical implications: Industrial designs are currently the most efficient IPR for SMEs to protect their intellectual property in open innovation collaborations. Depending on the company size, the use of different IPRs is recommended. Moreover, firms should seek to increase the efficiency of open innovation and the use of IPRs. Social implications: The high impact of SMEs on employment highlights the importance of fomenting efficient innovation processes in such firms. Originality/value: This paper opens the black box of IPR in relation to open innovation in SMEs, and draws distinctive conclusions with regards to patents, industrial designs, trademarks, and copyrights.

JournalManagement Decision
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1285-1306
Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Research areas

  • Copyright, Industrial design, Open innovation, Patents, SME, Trademark