Investment in intellectual assets is growing rapidly in the global economy, as firms, industries and national economies develop new modes of innovation and search for new sources of growth. The management of intellectual assets is critical for turning the innovation potential of firms into a real engine for growth and job creation. Channelling new ideas and creativity into competitiveness is a challenge, in particular for new businesses and small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), which rely strongly on the exploitation of intellectual capital in their business models. However innovative SMEs develop strategies to manage their intangible assets, including access to Intellectual Property (IP) systems, to a much smaller extent than large firms. This is a critical concern for policy makers responsible for strengthening SMEs’ contribution to high-wage employment creation and economic growth. In order to develop appropriate policy responses, there must be greater knowledge of SME practices to manage intellectual assets in a rapidly changing market and technological environment. Improved understanding of the impact of IP regulation is also needed.
The management of intellectual assets has become key to coping with market competition in the knowledge-based economy. Intellectual property rights (IPRs) can facilitate the process of value creation from intellectual assets. The acquisition and management of IPRs are critical for firms to turn their innovation potential and creativity into market value and competitiveness. This is particularly the case for new enterprises and SMEs that rely heavily on exploiting intellectual capital in their business models. The variety of IPRs reflects the multidimensional nature of innovation and intangibles. IPRs are instrumental for SMEs for a number of reasons: to protect and build on their innovations; position themselves competitively vis-à-vis larger enterprises in global markets; gain access to revenues; signal current and prospective value to investors, competitors and partners; access knowledge markets and networks; open up new commercial pathways; or segment existing markets.
Intellectual Asset Management, Innovation and SMEs
This chapter illustrates the background and methodology of the study, highlighting the importance of intellectual asset management in the process of SME innovation and growth and the role intellectual property rights (IPRs) play in this process. It presents a synthesis of the findings from country studies, commenting, in a comparative perspective, reforms in intellectual property regulation, how SMEs use IPR to generate and appropriate value from their innovation, as well as obstacles to SMEs’ effective use of IPRs. It concludes with policy recommendations.
Australia: Intellectual Property Solutions for Innovative SMEs
The importance of SMEs’ use of intellectual property rights (IPRs) has been recognised by policy makers in Australia over the past decades. Over this time, Australian SMEs have had some of their needs met by several innovative policies aimed at providing better access to the IPR system. This chapter presents an overview of the IP landscape in Australia and SME-IPR practices. Data have been gathered from appropriate secondary data, as well as from expert interviews and multiple case studies (SMEs in the creative industries and cleantech sector). From these data, the chapter presents issues confronting SMEs and the obstacles preventing them from creating and capturing value associated with the IPRs. Insights and implications for policy makers are presented in the conclusion.
Italy: Channelling Creativity into Competitiveness
This chapter illustrates the opportunities and challenges for Italian SMEs in creating value from intellectual assets in "design-driven" manufacturing industries, typically targeted at high quality markets. In these industries, which are at the core of the "Made in Italy" system, firms build competitive advantage by combining intangibles with technology and manufacturing skills. Based on evidence on access to formal IP tools, experts’ views and a range of SME cases across different industries, the chapter highlights key challenges that Italian SMEs in these sectors face in turning creativity into actual innovation and market value and in integrating intellectual property rights in their business models. The study provides a review of recent developments in the Italian IP landscape and comments on their relevance for SMEs. It concludes with policy recommendations for improving the capacity of SMEs to manage their intellectual assets strategically and build on them to increase international competitiveness.
Nordic Countries: Matching Exceptional Design and Creativity with Progressive Policy
Sharing a number of cultural and legal traditions and a strong reputation for design excellence, the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden) provide an interesting case to examine the similarities and differences in SMEs’ management of intellectual assets. This chapter analyses the ways in which Nordic SMEs in the creative industries (publishing, design, film production and art) manage their intellectual assets using intellectual property rights (IPRs). Using information gathered through interviews with experts, case studies of firms in the film and design industries and a survey of firms across a number of industries, key challenges and obstacles to effective management of intellectual assets by SMEs are identified. The chapter presents an overview of the IP regulation landscape across the Nordic region, commenting on regulatory reforms and identifying innovative programmes and good practices. Finally, a series of recommendations are proposed for ways in which governments could contribute to improved management of intellectual assets by SMEs.
United Kingdom: Intellectual Asset Management Strategies for Diverse Innovations
Evidence from small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the United Kingdom information and communication (ICT) sector shows that firms adopt a wide range of intellectual property (IP) governance mechanisms, combining proprietary IP, such as patents, copyright and trademarks, with softer strategies such as open source and the exchange of non-protected technology. The variety of approaches in the ICT sector reflects differences in product/service specialisation and internationalisation strategies, and IP value seeking objectives. These are mainly related to finance, innovation, strategic relationships and competitiveness. On the basis of an extensive survey, expert interviews and indepth case studies of SMEs, the chapter highlights differences in strategies by firm size: formal IP (patents and copyright) is used relatively more by medium sized and large firms, whereas micro and small firms are relatively more active in open source communities and in trading technology with no patent protection. Metrics used for measuring innovation and the performance of intellectual asset management in SMEs should reflect this variety of approaches. The chapter comments on institutional market failures, on the policy responses and extensive reforms promoted by the United Kingdom government, and present the case for flexible and ’neutral’ IP policies for SMEs in the ICT sector.
The United States: Balancing Robust Protection with Rapid Innovation
This chapter looks at how the United States of America is adapting its intellectual property rights (IPR) system to the challenges and opportunities presented by fast moving industries such as biotechnology and information technology.
Analysis of the implications of the latest US Supreme Court decisions is presented alongside a study of the day-to-day issues faced by SME technology firms and practical recommendations for both policy makers and practitioners. In-depth case studies sourced directly from interviews with top executives offer a compelling insight into how SMEs structure their operations to identify, protect and defend IPRs with limited resources in an increasingly global marketplace. Results from a survey across multiple industries provide a snapshot of the IPR practices of SMEs, re-enforce the case for key policy enhancements and reveal some unexpected trends such as the increasing use of open source innovation in the biomedical field.
Annex A: SME Case Studies: Template
Annex B Survey Questionnaire
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