SOTA Review

Unregistered IP rights and innovation: What is the evidence? . SOTA No 20

What does the evidence suggest in relation to the relationship between unregistered IP rights—including unregistered design rights, unregistered trade marks, and copyrights—and the innovation outcomes of firms? While some argue that unregistered IP rights incentivise innovation due to the convenience and savings—both in terms of time and costs—associated with a process that requires neither registration nor maintenance, others argue that unregistered IP rights hinder cumulative innovation and increase monopoly power. Yet, the influence on innovation seems to depend on firm size and sector, industry lifecycle length, and on the stage of the collaborative innovation process. It’s been proposed that a lack of reported litigation suggests that unregistered IP rights work more in terms of restricting copying than as enablers of prosecution for an infringement. Other than review articles, there is a dearth of empirical evidence pertaining to potential impacts on innovation outcomes of firms. By gathering data from firms on the use and experience unregistered IP rights and firm innovation outcomes, future research could shed light on this topic.

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