Assessing the IP portfolio of industrial clusters: the case of the Brazilian footwear industry
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Purpose - By examining the intellectual property (IP) portfolio of the largest Brazilian footwear firms, the purpose of this paper is to improve the understanding of how manufacturing firms in the footwear industry in a developing country are using the IP system. Design/methodology/approach - Intellectual property rights (IPRs) are widely acknowledged to be of central importance to manufacturing processes and systems. As such, manufacturing firms located in developing countries also need to use the international IP system in order to increase their competitiveness. This study examines how the Brazilian footwear industry is protecting their IPRs by assessing IP filings in recent years from this particular industry. Findings - Here, the authors provide empirical evidence indicating a recent growth in IP filings that was accomplished by manufacturing firms in the Brazilian footwear industry. Additionally, the authors also found that the use of the IP system is highly concentrated in the two Brazilian footwear industrial clusters, which are located in the States of Sao Paulo (SP) and Rio Grande do Sul (RS). Research limitations/implications - The analysis can be considered a solid reference for future studies that assess the use of IP of manufacturing organizations as a developing country context. The authors believe it is worthwhile to conduct qualitative interviews with the senior managers of the IP department of Brazilian footwear manufacturers located in the SP and RS industrial clusters, as a means of deepening our understanding on their motivations to file IP applications. Practical implications - The results presented in this study demonstrate a recent growth in IP filings accomplished by firms in the Brazilian footwear industry, which is an industry subject to serious threats posed by counterfeit and pirated goods. More specifically, the authors provide empirical evidence that the use of the IP system is more intense in two industrial clusters, which are located in the states of SP and RS. In this way, the authors believe that similar patterns will appear in other technical areas, in which industrial clusters can be identified. Social implications - According to OECD/EUIPO (2016), the footwear industry has been leading the rank of the most severely affected by counterfeit and pirated goods worldwide. Highly copied goods also include clothing, electrical machinery and equipment, articles of leather, and watches. However, footwear products are more frequently illegally copied as compared to any other type of product. Originality/value - Given the increased importance of IP assets in the current knowledge-based society, firms located in developing countries ought to use IP more intensively. In fact, even with growing correlation between IP and competitiveness, IP data from firms in developing countries have received limited treatment in the extant literature. In summary, the evidence base is not strong and it urgently needs strengthening. As such, to the authors' knowledge, this study is the first contribution addressing the use of IP by footwear manufacturing firms in a developing country.
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