Protecting Their Digital Assets: The Use of Formal & Informal Appropriability Strategies by App Developers

Milan Miric, Kevin J. Boudreau, Lars Bo Jeppesen

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Innovators and entrepreneurs developing products and competing “on top” of digital platforms face different conditions than do those in more traditional industries. In this paper, we explore how this affects appropriability strategies in novel data on mobile app developers’ appropriability strategies. We find that the many smallest developers in the “long tail”— the vast majority of all developers – do in fact take actions to capture value and to protect their intellectual property, but do so only through informal mechanisms. By contrast, larger developers exploit a combination of both informal mechanisms and formal intellectual property rights, using copyright, patents, and trademarks. Several strategies particular to digital platforms are also documented. We link this pattern of different strategies pursued by different competitor types to the structural features of digital competition.
TidsskriftResearch Policy
Udgave nummer8
Antal sider13
StatusUdgivet - okt. 2019


  • Appropriability mechanisms
  • Intellectual property
  • Digitization
  • Platforms
  • Entrepreneurship