Intangible assets and wealth.
In recent years, more and more organizations have realized the value of understanding and researching how assets that are not physical in nature can still have a significant effect on economic development – regardless of the level at which one chooses to measure this development. Several different studies have tried to measure these assets by developing different aggregate indices and measures. The research has taken long strides, not least in recent times through, e.g., Corrado et al. (2012), but these intangible assets are by their nature difficult to measure at the macro level and research can at best create fair approximations for this. The latest research development gives hope that the measurements will be better and better, especially at industry level, which has not previously received as much attention.
Most studies at the macro level seem to find that there is a positive relationship between intangible assets, innovation and economic growth or productivity growth. Most studies use patent data in some form as a measure of intangible assets. Other intangible assets such as trademarks and works of art often shine with their absence due to lack of data. Studies rarely take account of the combination of different intangible assets and their effect on growth/prosperity. In addition, most empirical studies measure correlation rather than actually being able to invoke causality. It is possible that there is a two-way connection, i.e., that intangible assets affect growth and vice versa. Furthermore, it is problematic to determine whether the positive relationship is due to other factors affecting both intangible assets and economic growth. Finally, the adoption of external innovation and a country's specialization or technological profile have been shown to play a role in economic prosperity.
Strategies for intangible assets and wealth.
Few studies empirically relate strategies around intellectual property rights to economic growth at the macro level. However, there are several who study differences in the exercise of intellectual property rights at industry level. The choice between formally and non-formally protecting new inventions and technologies seems to largely depend on the types of technologies and products/processes in question and how effective the protection is in practice. The same can be said about the choice between different types of intellectual property rights. The choice to patent or not has primarily consequences for the spread of technology in society, as knowledge is published in patent applications.
Furthermore, it has been shown that assets that are complementary to a new technology can play an important role in being able to introduce an innovation in the market. These include, e.g., assets used for marketing and manufacturing purposes. Upon introduction, trademarks and patents can serve as both substitutes and complements. Initially, patent protection is sufficient, but in order to maintain its position in the long term, companies may need to build customer loyalty around a protected brand.
In recent years, research has placed increasing emphasis on studying markets for innovation and open innovation, where technologies and innovations are spread between different parties. Issues that have been in focus are the type of innovations that are most often licensed or sold and when it is optimal to license or sell a technology instead of commercializing it on your own. Here, too, the decision seems to depend on the properties of the technology and what characterizes the industry and the market in which the innovator operates.
With regard to the integration of close partners and collaborations, e.g., why companies collaborate, what influences the nature of the collaboration and when collaborations are most effective. The literature suggests that differences in knowledge between partners can have both a positive and negative impact on the outcome of the collaboration.
The design of intellectual property rights and prosperity.
The design of intellectual property rights and other legislation is not only important if and how intangible assets is created. It also affects the strategies that companies use when it comes to managing their intangible assets. For example, stronger legislation on trade secrets could be both a complement and a substitute for patent applications. In the latter case, there is a risk that the dissemination of knowledge will decrease.
The research that has been done on the design of intellectual property rights and how this affects prosperity has mainly been about: 1) the design of patent rights with regard to height, breadth, length, and time for publication and how this affects innovation and prosperity; 2) how the strength of patent protection affects the incentives to patent technologies; and 3) how the strength of patent protection generally affects growth and innovation in rich and poor countries. Much remains to be done when it comes to copyright and trademark protection. Not least given that the importance of these two protections is growing strongly. Copyright applies to all digitized products - artistic and literary works as well as software – and trademark protection applies to a wider group of companies than just the innovative ones.