The ‘digital transformation’ originally affected companies that mainly operated in ICT-related sectors, but it now touches all aspects of our economies and societies.

The new report analyses industrial property strategies of the world’s top R&D investors


This is reflected in a new JRC-OECD report, which finds that the largest industrial R&D investors play a leading role in the development of digital technologies. These investors own about 75% of global ICT-related patents, while only 25% of them actually operate in the ICT sector.

Launched at the CONCORDi Conference, the report: "World Corporate Top R&D Investors: Industrial Property Strategies in the Digital Economy" is the result of a long-term collaboration between the JRC and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In a joint effort to provide up-to-date comparable data and state-of-the-art indicators and analysis, the report sets out to answer these questions:

  • What technologies are top R&D investors introducing - and in which markets?
  • What digital technologies are pervading different sectors?
  • What strategies do top R&D investors follow to obtain returns from their investments?

Digital technologies of world’s top R&D investors

The study analyses the innovation-related investments and other activities to generate knowledge and obtain returns through intellectual property (IP) rights deployed by the largest industrial R&D investors worldwide. Evidence suggests that digital technologies are a pillar of their overall strategy. Almost half of the IP5 patent applications filed by these investors in 2012-2014 - and more than a quarter of their trademarks and designs - relate to ICT.

Intellectual property strategies: patents, trademarks and designs

The report focuses on the ‘IP bundle’ of patent, design and trademark data to investigate how new technologies and products are introduced on key markets. While more than half of the top R&D investors use the full IP bundle, relying on a combination of patents and trademarks is also fairly common. Companies in the computer and electronics industry are, by far, the most reliant on IP rights. They account for about 1/3 of the total IP filings of top R&D investors. Other IP-intensive industries include transport equipment, machinery and chemicals.