The use of patents and informal appropriation mechanisms – Differences between sectors and among companies

The Paper “The use of patents and informal appropriation mechanisms – Differences between sectors and among companies” recently published online in Technovation by Peter Neuhäusler deals with the question how different kinds of firms act to appropriate their investments in innovation activities against the background of the newly evolving conditions during the patent surge in the 1990s. Based on a survey of patenting companies in Germany from the year 2002, firms are differentiated by several characteristics, e.g. size, sector and internationalization, to answer the question whether special firm characteristics can influence what is the best appropriation option for the firm.
Only a very small percentage (7.4%) of firms in the sample stress the importance of formal appropriation methods while at the same time evaluating informal appropriation methods as being of low importance. Especially internationalized firms, which file significantly more patents than their counterparts, seem to use patents rather for strategic purposes than as a mechanism to protect their inventions from being imitated. Patents can therefore be seen as a basic requirement to enter foreign markets, with a need to defend market positions by strategic patenting.

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