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The evolution of intellectual property strategy in innovation ecosystems: Uncovering complementary and substitute appropriability regimes

Journal article
Authors Marcus J Holgersson
Ove Granstrand
Marcel Bogers
Published in Long range planning
Volume 51
Issue 2
Pages 303-319
ISSN 0024-6301
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Mathematical Sciences
Pages 303-319
Language en
Keywords Appropriation, Innovation ecosystem, Intellectual property right, Litigation, Open innovation, Patent, Technology licensing
Subject categories Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Information Engineering, Telecommunications, Economics and Business, Business Administration, Law, Intellectual property law, Information technology


In this article, we attempt to extend and nuance the debate on intellectual property (IP) strategy, appropriation, and open innovation in dynamic and systemic innovation contexts. We present the case of four generations of mobile telecommunications systems (covering the period 1980-2015), and describe and analyze the co-evolution of strategic IP management and innovation ecosystems. Throughout this development, technologies and technological relationships were governed with different and shifting degrees of formality. Simultaneously, firms differentiated technology accessibility across actors and technologies to benefit from openness and appropriation of innovation. Our analysis shows that the discussion of competitiveness and appropriability needs to be expanded from the focal appropriability regime and complementary assets to the larger context of the innovation ecosystem and its cooperative and competitive actor relations, with dispersed complementary and substitute assets and technologies. Consequently, the shaping of complementary and substitute appropriability regimes is central when strategizing in dynamic and systemic innovation contexts. This holds important implications for the management of open innovation, innovation ecosystems, platforms, and coopetition.

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