Intellectual property rights (IPR) play a key role with regard to firms’ innovation and international competitiveness. According to indicators such as patent filings, the world ranking of France broadly reflects that it occupies for research and innovation activity. However, there are significant needs for improvement concerning firms. For, if large corporate groups compare favorably in this type of international ranking, this is generally not the case for smaller French companies. Moreover, the issue at stake concerns only the creation of new IPR but also and above all the way companies use these rights as a strategic tool.
The French Prime Minister’s Policy Planning Staff (Commissariat general à la stratégie et à la prospective), in the light of a study subcontracted to the consultancy firm Winnove, provides a sharper diagnosis in this matter and draws lessons for public policy.
It shows in particular that firms eager to protect and exploit their intellectual property assets use a variable range of tools and strategies, in particular depending on their size or sector of activity. Overall, patents undoubtedly represent the most important economic stakes. In this respect, if firms continue to use IPR primarily for defensive purposes, they also use them more and more for other complementary purposes: to innovate in partnership (cooperation strategy) to pre-empt certain markets (strategy of movement) or to generate licensing revenues (licensing strategy). However, intellectual property is still considered by most firms as a cost item. Its role as a value-generating asset is still insufficiently recognized.
Firms should hence pay greater attention to the strategic dimension of IP. To this end, they must be able to rely on appropriately qualified and trained personnel. This requires specific skills not only on legal and technical aspects, but also regarding managerial issues.
Finally, the analysis allows to specify what businesses expect from the government on topics such as the imminent implementation of the European unitary patent, working relationships with public research organizations, how to prevent and resolve disputes, as well as the role of France Brevets, the sovereign patent fund that was created in 2011.