Revealing the link between trademarks and innovation

By Meindert Flikkema, Ard-Pieter de Man, Carolina Castaldi and Marcel Seip

The findings of a major in-depth study of Community trademarks and Benelux trademarks reveals a strong link between trademarks and innovation, with trademarks forming part of a well-trodden path to bringing new products and services to market.

Firms apply for IP rights in order to make money from their innovation. In the past, economists have focused primarily on the benefits resulting from patent applications. The benefits of trademark applications and the complementarity of patents and trademarks were neglected almost completely until the seminal publication “Trademarks as an indicator of innovation and industrial change” by Sandro Mendonça, Tiago Santos Pereira and Manuel Mira Godinho in the academic journal Research Policy in 2004. However, research into the relationship between trademark applications and innovation activity is still in its infancy, despite Adam Smith’s intriguing paper calling for research into “locating the missing link between trademarks and innovation” (World Trademark Review issue 30). Smith rightfully pointed out that innovation extends the R&D stage, more directly related to patent applications, and observed correctly that “nobody knows exactly at which stage trademarks enter the innovative process”. However, we have now studied this in a cross-sectional study, which also examines the extent to which new trademarks refer to innovative products and services. In addition, we have studied the motives for trademark registration, for both innovators and non-innovators. In this article we report our main findings. A research paper with all the details and the findings of our second trademarks and innovation study (TIS) can be found at www.feweb.vu.nl/nl/afdelingen-en-instituten/post-graduate-school/postgraduate-school-management-consultant/m-flikkema/index.asp.

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