To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Corporate strategies for technology acquisition: evidence from patent transactions

Federico Caviggioli (Department of Management and Production Engineering DIGEP, Politecnico di Torino, Torino, Italy)
Antonio De Marco (Department of Management and Production Engineering DIGEP, Politecnico di Torino, Torino, Italy)
Giuseppe Scellato (Bureau of Research on Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge (BRICK), Collegio Carlo Alberto, Moncalieri, Italy)
Elisa Ughetto (Bureau of Research on Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge (BRICK), Collegio Carlo Alberto, Moncalieri, Italy) (Bureau of Research on Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge (BRICK), Collegio Carlo Alberto, Moncalieri, Italy)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 10 July 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine, for a sample of ten corporations in three industries (i.e. automotive suppliers, semiconductors, and computer networks), the different strategies that firms undertake when acquiring patent-protected technologies. In particular, the authors analyze and compare two alternative channels for patent acquisition: markets for technology (MFT) and merger and acquisition (M&A) processes.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors implement two types of analyses, at both patent and firm level. First, the authors perform an econometric analysis to evaluate whether acquired patented technologies differ in their patent bibliographic characteristics with respect to patent-protected technologies that have been developed internally by the examined firms. The authors then investigate the presence of differences in the characteristics of transacted patents acquired in the MFT or by means of M&A activities. Second, the authors take a firm-level perspective and examine the technology acquisition strategies adopted by selected companies to identify the presence of common patterns, industry-driven specificities and firm peculiarities.

Findings

The authors find that acquired patented technologies are, on average, more complex, of higher technical merit and the corresponding patents show a higher legal robustness. Econometric results reveal the presence of differences between M&A and MFT patents: the latter seem to protect less complex, and thus easier to trade, inventions. The analysis of the patterns of patent acquisitions at the firm level shows the presence of different strategies for the external sourcing of patented technologies, based on whether acquired patents protect core or non-core technology areas of the analyzed firms. Such patterns are discussed in the light of the different streams of the literature on intellectual property (IP) management.

Originality/value

This paper makes use of a new and comprehensive data set of the US patent transactions that took place between 2002 and 2010. The authors added detailed data on the evolution of the corporate trees of analyzed firms. The paper contributes to the literature on technology acquisitions and MFT by examining the different channels for patented technology acquisitions. The issue represents an emerging area of interest in the field of IP management.

Keywords

Citation

Caviggioli, F., De Marco, A., Scellato, G. and Ughetto, E. (2017), "Corporate strategies for technology acquisition: evidence from patent transactions", Management Decision, Vol. 55 No. 6, pp. 1163-1181. https://doi.org/10.1108/MD-04-2016-0220

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited