Innovation and Intellectual Property in the digital age

The notion of intellectual property is at the core of technological innovation, economic growth and industrial policies. This research project focuses on the challenges that digital technologies and culture pose to the notion.

The introduction of 5G and the development of the Internet of Things (IoT) impacts a wide range of industries and existing business models, and present a whole new set of challenges related to safety, privacy, spectrum allocation, public infrastructures and transportation that policymakers and regulators need to address to safeguard innovation, investments and citizens’ welfare. Confronted with the issues that arise at the intersection of technology, innovation and intellectual property law, the broad research question that this project will tackle is how to deal with the perceived clashes between new technologies and existing IP frameworks? .


Pricing Methods for SEPs

Standards are particularly important in the current landscape of information and communications technology industries. Given that 5G and IoT are expected to have implications for various industries, companies interested in the design and development of these technology standards have emerged. In turn, this has resulted in a variety of SEP owners and implementers with different business models and a greater diversity of licensing practices. FRAND is the legal term that stands for “Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory” and is typically used to define essential patents’ required licensing terms and this is the subject of an intense and polarised public debate.

The first line of research will carry out a comprehensive analysis of the evaluation methods of SEPs, of their logics and translation into legal norms to gain an improved understanding of patents’ value, in the current digital economy.


Organisation of Innovation

The second line of research, is the very strategic theme of the organisation of innovation, including technology transfer and commercialisation of innovation. The effectiveness of the processes through which ideas, knowledge and innovations are transferred from a research organisation to the marketplace have a decisive impact on public and private investments and on industrial policies. These processes, involving IP licensing and IP exchange agreements, are typically multi-actor and multi-stage and operate both through formal and informal channels. The analysis will investigate, in particular, the role, operational dynamics and organisational structure of Standards Setting Organisations.

This line of research will carry out an empirical analysis about all aspects of the standards-setting process, including stakeholders’ participation, forms of standard development, membership and procedural rules, exploring the associated tensions and concerns.

Economic, Legal and Business Implications of General Purpose Technologies

third area of research focuses on the economic, legal and business implications of General Purpose Technologies (GPTs), with a specific focus on the evaluation of patents and royalties associated with these technologies. According to the economic literature, GPTs are characterised by their pervasiveness across most sectors of the economy, by fast evolution and by the ability to enable further innovation of products and processes.

Addressing questions related to the management of intellectual property and to the organisational and strategic changes needed to support GPT licensing can enable further growth into adjacent markets and industries, and the full exploitation of potential entrepreneurial and industrial opportunities.

Open Innovation Paradigm and Intellectual Property

The fourth research area emerges from the challenges that the paradigm of innovation enabled by the Internet, increasingly user-oriented, collaborative and decentralised, poses to Western models of intellectual property, which instead privilege individual authorship and inventorship over collective creation or invention.

This line of research will explore the issues emerging at the intersection between Open Innovation, Sharing Economy and Intellectual Property focusing on the challenges associated with managing knowledge in the context of the current paradigm of innovation.

Challenges of Artificial Intelligence for IP Frameworks

The fifth area of research addresses the creative processes involving Artificial Intelligence (AI) which are challenging the traditional understanding of the notions of ‘originality’, ‘inventiveness’ and ‘the author’ at the core of IP frameworks. This line of research will focus on the debate about Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property, exploring the new frontier of patent, trade secret, and copyright law aspects specific to AI technology.

This line of research focuses on the complex legal issues associated with the continually evolving technologies. Secondly, it addresses the approaches that companies who are building and selling AI-based products are putting in place for IP protection and risk evaluation.


Competition Law and Standard Essential Patents

Competition Law and Standard Essential Patents; Testing the Limits of Extra-territorial Enforcement

18 October 2018

Badia Fiesolana, Refettorio

During the conference Competition Law and Standard Essential Patents we gathered academics, practitioners, officials from National Competition Authorities (NCAs) and representatives of the industry in order to discuss the challenges linked to the extra-territorial enforcement of competition law vis a vis abuses of Standard Essential Patents (SEPs).

View the programme here.

Advanced Competition Seminar FCP “Assessing Innovation Theories of Harm in EU Merger Control"

Advanced Competition Seminar FCP “Assessing Innovation Theories of Harm in EU Merger Control” 

13 April 2019

Badia Fiesolana, Refettorio

Find out more about the Advanced Competition Seminars here.

Innovation and Market Power in the Food Supply Chain

Innovation and Market Power in the Food Supply Chain: Challenges for Competition Policy and Regulation

20 September 2019

European University Institute, Florence

Find out more about the workshop here.

Innovation Conference: The way towards the Internet of Things: Open Standards vs Silos

Innovation Conference: The way towards the Internet of Things: Open Standards vs Silos

15 November 2019

Badia Fiesolana, Refettorio

Find out more about the conference here.

Conversation on Patents, Innovation and Competition

Conversation on Patents, Innovation and Competition

24 September 2020

Online Event

This online seminar aims to present and discuss four recent works dealing with several debated issues on standardisation and standard essential patents.

Find out more about the conference here.

5G in the Time of Pandemic Webinar Series

5G in the Time of Pandemic Webinar Series

29 October – 3 December 2020

Online Event

This series of five webinars provided an opportunity to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the future of the 5G, exploring the topic from different perspectives: infrastructural, economic, geopolitical and technological.

Details and video recordings of the webinars are also available here.




Within the project: “Innovation and Intellectual Property in the digital age: Global challenges and European responses”, the FSR C&M at the EUI invites distinguished scholars (professors, senior post-docs) working on IP and Innovation in the Digital Economy who wish to spend between 3 and 8 months in Florence at the EUI premises.

Find out more here.

CALL FOR PAPERS: Innovation in 5G technology: leadership, competition and policy issues

Open call for papers for a special issue of the journal, Telecommunications Policy, Innovation in 5G technology: leadership, competition and policy issues.

The deadline for paper submission is 31 March 2021.

Find out more here.

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