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.


Registrations open - Florence Seminar on Standard Essential Patents

Florence Seminar on Standard Essential Patents

6-7 October 2022

Badia Fiesolana – Teatro and online

The seminar fosters a scientific debate on approximately 15 selected papers which will focus on the licensing and litigation of Standard Essential Patents (SEPs), with particular emphasis on the societal impact of the research findings.

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Registrations open - Florence Patent Licensing Academy

Florence Patent Licensing Academy: Law, Economics and Practice of Patent Licensing

3-6 October 2022

4-day advanced training, residential or online

Patents are considered as a key to innovation and growth. In the pharmaceutical industry, they protect costly and long-term research of new and improved drugs; global ICT standards, such as 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi and HEVC enable interoperability, connectivity and innovation across different economic sectors and are building blocks of the digital economy and the Internet of Things (IoT). Each sector, however, has its specific use of patents and different licensing traditions.

The Patent Licensing Academy offers advanced training on the law, economics and practice of patent licensing, providing participants with a comprehensive understanding of:

  • The law and economics of patents and patent licensing;
  • Patent licensing peculiarities and practices in telecommunications, pharmaceutical, automotive and IoT industries;
  • Practical aspects and challenges related to negotiations and litigation of standard-essential patents (SEP);
  • Up-to-date case law and developments regarding licensing of SEPs in the IoT.

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Innovation in 5g Technology: Leadership, Competition, and Policy Issues

Innovation in 5g Technology: Leadership, Competition, and Policy Issues

27 April 2022


Join the presentation of the Telecommunications Policy’s new special issue ‘Innovation in 5G technology: leadership, competition and policy issues’ (2022). Contributions to the special issue provide insights on the opportunities and challenges raised by the implementation of 5G across sectors and explore potential implications for policy.

Standard Essential Patents: the Evolving Licensing Framework

Standard Essential Patents: the Evolving Licensing Framework

21 April 2022 @ 3:00 pm – 5:30 pm CEST

Badia Fiesolana, Teatro

The seminar will start with the presentation and discussion of a book by Igor Nikolic, Licensing Standard Essential Patents: FRAND and the Internet of Things (Hart Publishing 2021) and will continue with a roundtable discussion on the recent global developments regarding the SEP licensing framework.

The roundtable will gather academics, policymakers and industry representatives to discuss recent policy developments in SEP licensing, such as the US DOJ Draft Policy Statement, the UK SEP Consultation, the EU SEP Consultation, patent pools, and LNGs.

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Transatlantic Relationships in Innovation Policies: Converging Agendas?

Transatlantic Relationships in Innovation Policies: Converging Agendas?

10-11 November 2021

Badia Fiesolana, Refettorio

During the conference Transatlantic Relationships in Innovation Policies: Converging Agendas? we gathered experts, industry leaders, and policy actors from both sides of the Atlantic to address the policy initiatives and industrial developments in the regions, and the scope for cooperation among them in the field of IP and standard-setting.

View the programme here.

Conference recordings

First Keynote by Matthias Jørgensen (EU Commission) + Roundtable on 5G 

Second Keynote by Alex Rogers (Qualcomm)

Third Keynote by Daniel Spulber (Northwestern University) + Roundtable on Pricing Innovation

Final Keynote by Pierre Régibeau (European Commission)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


Publications related to the project


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