Profiting from Digital Innovation: Patents, Copyright and Performance

Kevin J. Boudreau, Lars Bo Jeppesen, Milan Miric*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


It is yet unclear whether patents and copyright are effective at protecting digital innovations. In this paper, we investigate this question using novel product-level data on mobile apps, in which we relate the use of both patents and copyright to (i) revenue performance and (ii) IP licensing. We theorize that these relationships depend on differences in product-level characteristics and that apps differentiated by their design are more likely and effectively to be protected by patents; apps combining elements of differentiated content are more likely and effectively protected by copyright. Our results support these predictions that product characteristics shape the appropriate contingent use of patent and copyright protection in digital products. These patterns are especially relevant to industries where digital products combine elements of differentiated design and differentiated digital content.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104477
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number5
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Copyright
  • Patents
  • Digitization
  • Digital platforms
  • Mobile apps
  • Platform complementers
  • Innovation

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