survey results indicate that trademarks and trade secrets are the most
important forms of intellectual property (IP) protection according to
most businesses, followed by copyrights and patents.
findings shed light on the importance businesses place on various types
of IP protection for their companies. Specifically, during 2008, they
reported whether utility patents, design patents, trademarks,
copyrights, trade secrets and mask works—copyright protection for
semiconductor products—were “very important,” “somewhat important,” or
protections are granted to the owners of a variety of intangible
assets, such as discoveries and inventions; musical, literary and
artistic works; and symbols, names, images and designs used in commerce.
National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Census Bureau
co-sponsored this data collection as part of a revamped and expanded
Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS). The BRDIS collects
information from a nationally representative sample of about 40,000
companies, including companies in both manufacturing and
15% of all businesses reported trademarks as either very important or
somewhat important to their business in 2008; that is 6% said trademarks
were very important, while 9% said they were somewhat important.
percent of surveyed businesses reported trade secrets as very important
or somewhat important at 6% and 8% respectively.
because each form of intellectual property protection is specialized,
the percentages are not additive across types. A trade secret, for
example, provides economic benefit by keeping information from being
publicly known, whereas a trademark protects economic value through name
or brand recognition. Therefore, a single firm could identify both of
these forms as important to its business.
of today’s business derives its competitive advantage from the ability
to protect and exploit exclusive rights over investments in intellectual
property,” said John Jankowski, lead author of the report in NSF’s
National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. “Hence, IP
protection is a persistent and recurrent concern of businesses.”
12% of U.S.-located businesses identified copyrights as important, and
businesses indicated that design patents and utility patents are
important forms of IP protection, at 5% and 4% respectively.
another finding, mask works, which provide extremely focused copyright
protection for semiconductor products, were reported as very or somewhat
important by 2% of all businesses.
Business Use of Intellectual Property Protection Documented in NSF Survey