Chapter 31. Intellectual Property Strategy at the Firm Level

Mariann Jelinek

College of William and Mary

Intellectual property—legal ownership rights to creative works that are "novel, non-obvious, and useful"—have long been associated with physical works like inventions, written work like books or articles, and even artistic works. As the world economy increasingly emphasizes "knowledge work", it turns to "bits and bytes"—electronic "clicks" rather than physical "bricks". Knowledge, often captured in digital content, the expertise on which it is based, and the products and services to which it gives rise, are all considered "intellectual capital" to be protected, nurtured, and husbanded equally as much as financial capital. Moreover, since design specifications or chemical formulas can be readily digitized, the "recipes" for physical items enters the realm of "clicks", easily copied, easily transferred, and much more difficult to control.

Intellectual property eights (IPR) have risen to prominence in innovation discussions, fueled by numerous assertions and assumptions about the nature and quality of IP, what it can do and what it can't. This chapter seeks to sketch a basic framework for considering IP strategy at the firm level, clarify some of the contested issues (or at least some appropriate grounds for contest), and suggest approaches for considering IP strategy options. The chapter proceeds as follows: the first section defines intellectual capital, intellectual property, and ...

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