2How Companies Choose these Tools

Taking into consideration the diversity of mechanisms offered to companies to secure the product of an innovation effort and reap the rewards, which of them do companies choose? Why do they decide in favor of one rather than the other? To what extent can they combine these different tools? To what extent do they think that these tools are effective?

As for the preferences of companies in relation to the different ways of protecting innovation, a certain number of general results are well backed up. They have been first established by two pioneering empirical studies focused on companies in the manufacturing sector with R&D activities in the United States. One of them, carried out by Levin et al. [LEV 87], relies on a survey conducted at Yale University in 1983. The other, carried out by Cohen et al. [COH 00] is based on a survey conducted by Carnegie Mellon in 1994. These surveys provide information about the companies’ propensity to patent their innovations, that is the percentage of their inventions that they decide to patent. Both show that in most sectors – with the exception of the drug industry – the companies in question in general rely less on patents than other appropriation mechanisms such as trade secrets, lead time over competitors, or the use of complementary assets. Cohen et al. [COH 00] point out that even if the importance of patents has increased to a certain extent between the two studies – at least for large companies and ...

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