Within this research cluster, TILEC researchers investigate the phenomenon of innovation, broadly construed as the creation and diffusion of new knowledge.
Innovation has long been recognized as the main driver of economic growth and holds the potential to provide solutions to a wide array of societal problems, ranging from combating diseases through medical innovation to fighting climate change through green technology. Putting in place a regulatory framework that is conducive to innovation has been a central policy concern within the EU for several years. Although TILEC studies innovation in general, it focuses particularly on innovation in the areas of ICT, as well as in the creative industries and data-intensive industries.
The interaction of competition and innovation remains at the heart of TILEC's research interests. In addition to the work discussed in Section 3.2, TILEC researchers are interested in how intellectual property law interacts with competition law in shaping firms’ incentives to invest in R&D and compete vigorously on price and other product characteristics. Of particular interest is the role of big data in the innovation process: will it serve as an input to innovation, allowing firms to design better products for consumers, or will it serve as a tool to exclude competitors and monopolize markets? Addressing this problem is crucial for creating value from data.
Furthermore, TILEC researchers are interested in the actual process of diffusion of innovation and creativity that brings value to society: it is not enough that new knowledge sits on a shelf; it must also be used in order to realize its potential for enhancing health and wellbeing in society. In this regard, attention is given to both general institutions enabling it, such as standardization or social trust, as well as more innovation-specific institutions. The latter include the study of individual and collective licensing regimes (including patent pools), enforcement mechanisms, IP-negative zones and public domain. TILEC researchers also study more diffusion-centered alternatives to IP regimes, such as subsidies, prizes, and other mechanisms that can incentivize inventors without exposing society to the negative consequences brought about by the creation of exclusive rights.
TILEC researchers conduct research into the private ordering of innovation and intellectual property rights. Given the role of intellectual property rights as incentives to create and to diffuse innovation, we investigate how industries self-organize their affairs when dealing with these entitlements. Examples of private ordering within IP rights are open source, open data or fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) commitment of patents. Recognizing the important role played by Standard Development Organizations (SDOs) in the innovation process, TILEC researchers also examine how the rules regarding disclosure and licensing of intellectual property rights included in technology standards affect participation, investment, and pricing. Furthermore, we look at private ordering mechanisms and social norms that posit themselves as alternatives to legally instituted exclusive rights, and study how individual creativity is driven by non-monetary incentives. If we want to promote innovation, we cannot rely on government intervention alone; private ordering is an important building block for empowering the resilient society.
With regard to the patent system, TILEC researchers investigate two main issues. First, for the patent system to perform its function of fostering innovation, an adequate process of patent
screening must be in place. TILEC researchers study how the existing set of policy instruments interact and how they can be used to improve patent screening. Moreover, they examine mechanisms, possibly involving new policy instruments, to better harness the private information held by inventors and their competitors with a view towards enhancing the functioning of the patent system. Second, the evolving need to adjust the patent system to industry-specific realities is being studied by focusing on the role and design of remedies, both within and outside of patent law. TILEC researchers study to what extent innovation considerations can and should play a role in shaping the remedial framework itself, without first seeking a solution from the external systems, such as competition law. Making sure that only deserving innovations receive patent protection, and that the gains from innovation are shared in an equitable way, are fundamental for equipping the resilient society with the tools to face the challenges of tomorrow.