Software Piracy and IP Management Practices: Strategic Responses to Product-Market Imitation
48 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2021 Last revised: 13 Jan 2022
Date Written: August 2021
How do firms’ IP strategies respond to sudden increases in product-market imitation? Using a 2001 technological shock that enabled rising software piracy, we implement an instrumental-variables estimator to compare a treatment group of at-risk-of-piracy firms with matched not-at-risk control firms. We find that rising piracy increases subsequent R&D spending, copyrights, trademarks, and patents for large, incumbent software firms. Furthermore, copyright and trademark filings precede those of patents, and firms with large patent portfolios disproportionately increase copyrights and trademarks following the shock. We conclude that piracy and similar competitive shocks push firms to innovate to stay ahead of imitator products, and that this effect is moderated by their existing patent portfolios. Our findings have implications for managers seeking to capture value from IP in knowledge-based industries.
Keywords: piracy, software, innovation, intellectual property
JEL Classification: O32, O34, D22, M21, L86
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation