Innovation and intellectual property in the digital age

The notion of intellectual property is at the core of technological innovation, economic growth and industrial policies. This research project focuses on the challenges that digital technologies and culture pose to the notion.

The introduction of 5G and the development of the Internet of Things (IoT) impact a wide range of industries and existing business models and present a whole new set of challenges related to safety, privacy, spectrum allocation, public infrastructures and transportation that policymakers and regulators need to address to safeguard innovation, investments and citizens’ welfare. Confronted with the issues that arise at the intersection of technology, innovation and intellectual property law, the broad research question that this project will tackle is: how to deal with the perceived clashes between new technologies and existing IP frameworks?

If you’re interested in the project’s research outputs, check the IP & Innovation series in our Resources repository

Main research themes

Valuation and licensing of standard essential patents

The first area of research focuses on licensing patents that are essential to standards (Standards Essential Patents). Since the regulation of standard-essential patents has increasingly attracted the attention of policymakers all around the world, the research team will analyse the expected evolution of the intellectual property framework related to standard-essential patents in the European Union and abroad.

Organisation of innovation

The second area, crucially interrelated to the previous one, focuses on the organisation of innovation, referring to the processes through which ideas and knowledge flow from R&D organisations to the marketplace through technology transfer and commercialization of innovation. The analysis focuses, in particular, on the comparison between two main modes of innovation that seems to dominate the panorama of the digital economy: multi-sided platforms on one side, and Standard Development Organisations (SDOs) on the other.

Economic, legal and business implications of general purpose technologies

The third area of research focuses on the economic, legal and business implications of General Purpose Technologies (GPTs), with a specific focus on the advancement of 5G to power the “Connected Intelligent Edge” and enable the cloud economy. The area will analyze the latest technological developments at the intersection of transformative trends that are creating new and diverse opportunities for the industrial ecosystem, adopting the framework of GPTs. According to the economic literature, GPTs are characterized by their pervasiveness across most sectors of the economy, fast evolution and by the ability to enable further products or process innovation. In general terms, these technologies are developed in ways that can be employed by different potential downstream licensees and can accommodate different strategies.

Geopolitics of technology

The fourth newer area of research refers to the Geopolitics of Technology. While technologies have always been a driver and object of international cooperation, in the current phase, the tremendous acceleration of technological progress has induced an escalation of the strategic competition between the US and China. In this context, Europe has so far taken a lead in promoting a responsible transition to the digital age acting as a standard-setter in a number of crucial areas – such as data protection (with the General Data Protection Regulation) and digital platforms regulation (with the Digital Markets Act). Under this research line, topics to be addressed include the nexus between Intellectual Property frameworks and the geopolitical approach to emerging technology development and application and the implications of transatlantic cooperation for innovation and competitive dynamics on the global scale in the next years.

Project team

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