Firms and Intellectual Property Rights: who, which, when and where

Marcel Seip

Research output: PhD ThesisPhD-Thesis - Research and graduation internal

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There is a large heterogeneity among firms in the use of IPRs. This thesis has focused on the use of types of IPRs that can be officially registered: patents, trademarks, design rights and breeders’ rights. The central research question addressed in this thesis is: How do firms employ different IPRs for innovation and growth purposes? To answer this question, it was decomposed into four sub-questions: 1. Who is filing IPRs? 2. Which IPRs do firms file? 3. When are IPRs filed? 4. Where are IPR filers located? The results of the research presented in the different chapters of the thesis provide answers to these sub-questions. 1. Who is filing IPRs? Chapter 2 presented results on the distribution of IPR filings across firms. A taxonomy of firms filing IPRs in terms of IPR variety and intensity revealed the most common filing practices across firms. This taxonomy distinguishes between five categories of firms: patent rookies, trademark rookies, IPR strategists, IPR specialists and IPR generalists. Another conclusion is that IPR filing strongly depends on both sector and firm size. IPRs are also filed by firms having capabilities necessary for successful innovation. The IPR literature provided evidence that different types of IPRs can be used as an indicator for the technological and commercialization capabilities present within a firm, region or country. These capabilities foster growth. Chapter 3 presented an analysis of the IPRs of scale-ups. The share of firms filing trademarks was much higher for the top 250 scale-ups than for other firms with similar sizes. Building on the literature on IPRs it can be argued that these trademark filings indicate that these firms stand out in their commercialization capabilities. 2. Which IPRs do firms file ? The results based on Dutch IPR filers presented in chapter 2 clearly confirmed statistics on IPRs which indicated that trademarks are by far the most widespread type of IPR filed by firms. About six times as many firms file trademarks as opposed to firms filing patents. Patents are filed by more firms than design and breeders’ rights. 3. When are IPRs filed? The results in chapter 3 indicated that scale-ups tend to file trademarks already at a young age. Instead, patents tend to be filed throughout the lifetime of scale-ups. In IPR literature trademarks are generally associated with downstream activities of the innovation process, such as the market introduction and successful commercialization of products and services. Chapter 4 presented evidence that, contrary to this assumption, trademarks are often filed during the early phases of the innovation process. There is a higher tendency towards early trademark filing by start-ups, for the purpose of radical innovation and when trademark filings are combined with patents. 4. Where are IPRs filers located? Scale-ups in the Netherlands, especially the top 250 fastest growing scale-ups and especially those in the Northern three provinces are more likely to file trademarks as compared to other firms. An analysis of the differences in the intensity of patent and trademark filings, done by firms across regions at NUTS 3-level in the Netherlands was presented in chapter 5. We interpreted these differences as a result of differences in the presence of specific capabilities within regions. Patent intensity signals the presence of technological capabilities whereas trademark intensity signals the presence of capabilities connected with commercialization activities. Not surprisingly, urbanized regions, where many firms with these capabilities are concentrated, tend to show higher patent and trademark filing intensities and therefore score higher on these capabilities than rural regions. These capabilities moderate the successful exploitation of opportunities for new economic pathways which foster regional economic resilience during an economic crisis.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • de Man, Ard-Pieter, Supervisor
  • Flikkema, Meindert, Co-supervisor
  • Castaldi, C., Co-supervisor, -
Award date26 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2021


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