Wednesday, 26 August 2015

IP rights in Europe: a follow-up study

Intellectual Property Rights and Firm Performance in Europe: An Economic Analysis is the title of the 100-page report produced by the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM). According to the Foreword:
The study on the contribution made by IPR-intensive industries to the EU economy carried out in 2013, in partnership with the European Patent Office, demonstrated the importance of those industries. It showed they support directly or indirectly 35% of jobs, almost 39% of the EU’s GDP and 90% of external trade. 
OHIM, through the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights, has now carried out a follow-up study delving deeper into the influence of these rights at the firm or company level. This study, based on official public financial data from more than 2.3 million EU firms, covers companies which own patents, trade marks and designs at both national and at EU level. 
The study shows that large companies are four times more likely to own IP rights than smaller companies - 40% of larger firms have registered rights, compared with 9% of SMEs [this raises a popular debating point: do companies have more IP rights because they're bigger -- or are they bigger because they have more IP rights? Neither, probably ...]. It also shows that companies that own IP rights perform better than those that do not [again, there is a correlation v causation issue here]. This is a particularly significant finding for the 1.8 million SMEs that have registered IP rights, since they represent such an important part of the EU economy. 
The results demonstrate that businesses that own Intellectual Property Rights generate more revenue per employee than those that do not, have more employees and pay higher salaries to their workers and that this relationship is particularly strong for SMEs.
These conclusions are interesting and entertaining, but they are only a snapshot of a very large picture and it is still necessary to look beyond them. For example, some of the businesses that have the largest concentration of low-paid workers, such those in the fishing, agricultural and distribution sectors, and in security, construction and healthcare, are likely to have a lower concentration of IP rights too. 

Thanks to Chris Torrero for the link!

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