Defacto and Deeded Intellectual Property: Knowledge-Driven Co-Evolution of Firm Collaboration Boundaries and IPR Strategy
Research on intellectual property has focused on formal legally recorded rights that we call deeded, most often measured by granted patents. Meanwhile, other "defacto" IP (mainly purposive secrecy and natural excludability) has become more important because of the increasing closeness of commercial technologies to cutting edge science. A "corporate-academic" model has developed and become institutionalized over the last three decades which emphasizes attracting the best and brightest scientists, providing them with a commensurate increase in autonomy including initiation of bench-level collaborations with top university scientists in which valuable tacit knowledge is transferred in both directions. We provide suggestive evidence that both firm and university scientists learn from these collaborations, e.g., both types of scientists experience sharply higher patenting rates once they have engage in university-firm collaborations. We propose and test two indicators of adoption of the corporate-academic model, whether or not the firm has ever: (a) co-authored an article with a university scientist and (b) applied for (an eventually granted) patent with non-patent references, where these references are used importantly to cite scientific articles and other scientific materials. Both were robustly positive and statistically significant across four measures of U.S. high-tech firm success (publishing, patenting, obtaining venture capital, and going public) for six broad S&T areas (bio/chem/med, information technology, nanotechnology, semiconductors, other science, and other engineering). Star scientists publication as or with firm employees, SBIR grants received, and citation-weighted patents and articles all played comparatively supporting roles in the empirical estimates. We concluded that the most successful high-tech firms have adopted a strategy of operating near the edge of the scientific envelope where high levels of tacit knowledge provide substantial natural excludability reducing or preventing entry of imitators.
This research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (grants SES 0304727, SES-0830983, and SES-1158907) and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation (grants 2008-0028 and 2008-0031). We are indebted to our research team members Minji Kang, Hsing-Hau Chen, Jason Fong, Nahoko Kameo, Amarita Natt, and Yong Yang. We acknowledge valuable comments on earlier versions of this paper by referees for the Annals of Economics and Statistics special issue on emerging industries, at the Princeton University-Microsoft Intellectual Property Conference, and at seminars given at the University of Michigan, UC San Diego, UC Irvine and UCLA. We received especially on point comments from participants at two JST International Workshops "Towards Evidence-based Policy for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy" and "Measuring and Managing Innovation Process" in Tokyo, the USPTO's Patent Statistics for Decision Makers Conference, and the STAR Metrics II Workshop. Detailed comments from colleagues, especially Matthew Kahn, helped shape the paper. Certain data included herein are derived from the Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Sciences Citation Index, Arts & Humanities Citation Index, High Impact Papers, and ISI Highly Cited of the Institute for Scientific Information®, Inc. (ISI®), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA: © Copyright Institute for Scientific Information®, Inc. 2005, 2006. All rights reserved. Certain data included herein are derived from the Connecting Outcome Measures of Entrepreneurship, Technology, and Science (COMETS) database and the associated COMETSbeta and COMETSandSTARS databases © Lynne G. Zucker and Michael R. Darby. All rights reserved. This paper is a part of the NBER's research program in Productivity. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors and not those of their employers or the National Bureau of Economic Research. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Lynne G. Zucker & Michael R. Darby, 2014. "Defacto and Deeded Intellectual Property: Knowledge-Driven Co-Evolution of Firm Collaboration Boundaries and IPR Stragtegy," Annals of Economics and Statistics, . citation courtesy of