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The changing work of IPR attorneys: 30 years of institutional transitions

Jussi Heikkilä and Mirva Peltoniemi

Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 2023, vol. 197, issue C

Abstract: Intellectual property rights (IPR) are at the core of innovation studies. Patent attorneys and other IPR experts play an important role in drafting and filing processes yet we know little of their work. We conduct an exploratory case study to shed light on how IPR attorneys adapt to changes in institutions and competitive environment that overturn the fundamentals of their business. We focus on the sector's evolution in Finland from 1990 to 2020, and analyse the impacts of globalization, European integration, and digitalization. EPC, EUTM, RCD and the London Agreement are identified as significant changes for the industry. IPR register data and expert interviews show that the business has shifted from serving foreign clients filing in Finland to serving Finnish clients filing internationally, increasing the knowledge requirements of local experts. The filing volume has increased due to globalization while billing per filing has decreased. This has triggered the development of consulting services relating to technology strategy. We contribute by analysing the sector's evolution in a small open economy where start-ups typically aim at the global market from the start. Our study also highlights the need to integrate IPR attorneys into the literatures on appropriability and propensity to file.

Keywords: Patent attorney; IPR; Small open economy; European integration; Industry dynamics; Institutional change (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023
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DOI: 10.1016/j.techfore.2023.122853

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