2021/11 LEM Working Paper Series

Sustainable innovation and intellectual property rights: friends, foes or perfect strangers?

Carolina Castaldi
Sustainability; innovation; intellectual property rights.

  JEL Classifications
L2, Q01, Q56, O31, O34
As sustainable innovation becomes a strategy for companies to gain competitive advantage, the question of how to profit from sustainable innovation becomes central. Surprisingly, little research exists on the appropriation strategies of companies engaged in sustainable innovation and the few studies are poorly connected. This chapter focuses on intellectual property rights (IPR), the formal tools available to companies to protect their intangible assets. I link the three main types of IPRs to common archetypes of sustainable innovation and I discuss the motives why companies might file patents, trademarks or design rights or instead choose not to. I conclude by discussing how IPRs might act as incentives, barriers or be simply neglected by sustainable innovators and I offer directions for further research.
download pdf