IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The importance of trademark protection for product differentiation and innovation


  • Dirk Crass

    (ZEW (Center for European Economic Research))

  • Franz Schwiebacher

    (ZEW (Center for European Economic Research))


Trademarks mark new product varieties. Trademarks may become associated with a favorable public recognition and evaluation that sustains the advantages from a horizontally differentiated market position. A favorable public assessment appears more important for firms in service sectors where production exhibits usually more experience characteristics than in manufacturing and for firms with vertically-differentiating product innovation. Using data from the 2011 German innovation survey, we find that for firms in service sectors, the use of trademarks increases the probability that the firm’s products and services are not easily substitutable by rival ones. This product-differentiating effect of trademarks in services is present for firms with new-to-the-market product innovation but not for firms without product innovation. This suggests that trademarks supplement the appropriation of product innovation rents in services. The number of trademarks exhibits a product-differentiating effect for service sector firms with imitative new-to-the-firm product innovation, which suggests differentiation due to proliferating product variants. Regarding firms in manufacturing sectors, trademarks do not show a conclusive product-differentiating effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Dirk Crass & Franz Schwiebacher, 2017. "The importance of trademark protection for product differentiation and innovation," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 44(2), pages 199-220, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:epolin:v:44:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s40812-016-0058-1
    DOI: 10.1007/s40812-016-0058-1

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Abstract
    Download Restriction: Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kenneth L. Judd, 1985. "Credible Spatial Preemption," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 16(2), pages 153-166, Summer.
    2. Paz Coscollá-Girona & Pilar Beneito López & Amparo Sanchis Llopis & María Engracia Rochina Barrachina, 2011. "Competitive pressure determinants and innovation at the firm level," Working Papers. Serie EC 2011-02, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    3. Aschhoff, B. & Crass, D. & Doherr, T. & Hud, M. & Hünermund, P. & Iferd, Y. & Köhler, C. & Peters, B. & Rammer, C. & Schubert, T. & Schwiebacher, F., 2014. "Dokumentation zur Innovationserhebung 2013," ZEW Dokumentationen 14-01, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    4. Takatoshi Tabuchi, 2012. "Multiproduct Firms in Hotelling’s Spatial Competition," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(2), pages 445-467, June.
    5. Christine Greenhalgh & Mark Rogers, 2007. "The value of intellectual property rights to firms and society," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(4), pages 541-567, Winter.
    6. Evan Rawley, 2010. "Diversification, coordination costs, and organizational rigidity: evidence from microdata," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(8), pages 873-891, August.
    7. Christine Greenhalgh & Mark Rogers, 2007. "The Value of Intellectual Property Rights to Firms," Discussion Papers 06-036, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    8. David J. Teece, 2003. "Towards an Economic Theory of the Multiproduct Firm," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Essays In Technology Management And Policy Selected Papers of David J Teece, chapter 15, pages 419-446, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    9. Philipp Schautschick & Christine Greenhalgh, 2016. "Empirical studies of trade marks -- The existing economic literature," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(4), pages 358-390, June.
    10. Roberts, Peter W. & McEvily, Susan, 2005. "Product-line expansion and resource cannibalization," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 49-70, May.
    11. Giovanni B. Ramello & Francesco Silva, 2006. "Appropriating signs and meaning: the elusive economics of trademark," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(6), pages 937-963, December.
    12. Royston Greenwood & Stan X. Li & Rajshree Prakash & David L. Deephouse, 2005. "Reputation, Diversification, and Organizational Explanations of Performance in Professional Service Firms," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 16(6), pages 661-673, December.
    13. Tomasz Obloj & Laurence Capron, 2011. "Role of resource gap and value appropriation: effect of reputation gap on price premium in online auctions," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(4), pages 447-456, April.
    14. Tomasz Obloj & Laurence Capron, 2011. "Role of Resource Gap and Value Appropriation: Effect of Reputation Gap on Price Premium in Online Auctions," Post-Print hal-00853790, HAL.
    15. Richard Schmalensee, 1978. "Entry Deterrence in the Ready-to-Eat Breakfast Cereal Industry," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 305-327, Autumn.
    16. Barry L. Bayus & William P. Putsis, Jr., 1999. "Product Proliferation: An Empirical Analysis of Product Line Determinants and Market Outcomes," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 18(2), pages 137-153.
    17. Kai-Lung Hui, 2004. "Product Variety Under Brand Influence: An Empirical Investigation of Personal Computer Demand," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(5), pages 686-700, May.
    18. Schmalensee, Richard, 1982. "Product Differentiation Advantages of Pioneering Brands," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 349-365, June.
    19. ANITA M. McGAHAN & MICHAEL E. PORTER, 1997. "How Much Does Industry Matter, Really?," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(S1), pages 15-30, July.
    20. Xavier Vives, 2008. "Innovation And Competitive Pressure," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(3), pages 419-469, December.
    21. Tomasz Obloj & Laurence Capron, 2011. "Role of resource gap and value appropriation: Effect of reputation gap on price premium in online auctions," Post-Print hal-00623858, HAL.
    22. Tang, Jianmin, 2006. "Competition and innovation behaviour," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 68-82, February.
    23. Landes, William M & Posner, Richard A, 1987. "Trademark Law: An Economic Perspective," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 265-309, October.
    24. Amara, Nabil & Landry, Réjean & Traoré, Namatié, 2008. "Managing the protection of innovations in knowledge-intensive business services," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(9), pages 1530-1547, October.
    25. Bronwyn Hall & Christian Helmers & Mark Rogers & Vania Sena, 2014. "The Choice between Formal and Informal Intellectual Property: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 52(2), pages 375-423, June.
    26. Nicolaj Siggelkow, 2003. "Why Focus? A Study Of Intra‐Industry Focus Effects," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(2), pages 121-150, June.
    27. Olav Sorenson, 2000. "Letting the market work for you: an evolutionary perspective on product strategy," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(5), pages 577-592, May.
    28. Mary W. Sullivan, 1992. "Brand Extensions: When to Use Them," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 38(6), pages 793-806, June.
    29. Rafael Rob & Arthur Fishman, 2005. "Is Bigger Better? Customer Base Expansion through Word-of-Mouth Reputation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(5), pages 1146-1175, October.
    30. John Paul MacDuffie & Kannan Sethuraman & Marshall L. Fisher, 1996. "Product Variety and Manufacturing Performance: Evidence from the International Automotive Assembly Plant Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 42(3), pages 350-369, March.
    31. Guodong (Gordon) Gao & Lorin M. Hitt, 2012. "Information Technology and Trademarks: Implications for Product Variety," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(6), pages 1211-1226, June.
    32. Anocha Aribarg & Neeraj Arora, 2008. "—Interbrand Variant Overlap: Impact on Brand Preference and Portfolio Profit," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(3), pages 474-491, 05-06.
    33. J.P. Eggers, 2012. "All experience is not created equal: learning, adapting, and focusing in product portfolio management," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(3), pages 315-335, March.
    34. Valentine Millot, 2009. "Trademarks as an Indicator of Product and Marketing Innovations," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 2009/6, OECD Publishing.
    35. Richard Williams, 2006. "Generalized ordered logit/partial proportional odds models for ordinal dependent variables," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 6(1), pages 58-82, March.
    36. Andrea Fosfuri & Marco S. Giarratana & Alessandra Luzzi, 2008. "The Penguin Has Entered the Building: The Commercialization of Open Source Software Products," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 19(2), pages 292-305, April.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Kim, Jungho & Kollmann, Trevor & Palangkaraya, Alfons & Webster, Elizabeth, 2022. "Does local technological specialisation, diversity and dynamic competition enhance firm creation?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(7).
    2. Nasirov, Shukhrat, 2020. "Trademark value indicators: Evidence from the trademark protection lifecycle in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(4).

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Crass, Dirk & Schwiebacher, Franz, 2013. "Do trademarks diminish the substitutability of products in innovative knowledge-intensive services?," ZEW Discussion Papers 13-061, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    2. Yougen Cao & Shengce Ren & Mei Du, 2022. "Strategic trademark management: a systematic literature review and prospects for future research," Journal of Brand Management, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 29(5), pages 435-453, September.
    3. Castaldi, Carolina, 2018. "To trademark or not to trademark: The case of the creative and cultural industries," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 606-616.
    4. Stefan, Ioana & Bengtsson, Lars, 2017. "Unravelling appropriability mechanisms and openness depth effects on firm performance across stages in the innovation process," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 252-260.
    5. Chen, I-Ju & Hsu, Po-Hsuan & Wang, Yanzhi, 2022. "Staggered boards and product innovations: Evidence from Massachusetts State Bill HB 5640," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(4).
    6. Barroso, Alicia & Giarratana, Marco S. & Pasquini, Martina, 2019. "Product portfolio performance in new foreign markets: The EU trademark dual system," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 11-21.
    7. Stephen Petrie & Mitchell Adams & Ben Mitra‐Kahn & Matthew Johnson & Russell Thomson & Paul Jensen & Alfons Palangkaraya & Elizabeth Webster, 2020. "TM‐Link: An Internationally Linked Trademark Database," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 53(2), pages 254-269, June.
    8. de Haas, Samuel & Herold, Daniel & Schäfer, Jan Thomas, 2022. "Entry deterrence due to brand proliferation: Empirical evidence from the German interurban bus industry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(C).
    9. Castaldi Carolina & Mafini Dosso, 2018. "From R&D to market: using trademarks to capture the market capability of top R&D investors," JRC Working Papers on Corporate R&D and Innovation 2018-01, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    10. Bernadette Power & Gavin C Reid, 2021. "The Impact of Intellectual Property Types on the Performance of Business Start-ups in the USA," Working Papers wp523, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
    11. Drivas, Kyriakos & Gounopoulos, Dimitrios & Konstantios, Dimitrios & Tsiritakis, Emmanuel, 2018. "Trademarks, Firm Longevity and IPO Underpricing," MPRA Paper 89430, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. David Eduardo Cavazos & Matthew A Rutherford & Karen Patterson, 2016. "Applying an Attribution-Based View of Reputation to Examine Firm Responses to Government Product Ratings," Corporate Reputation Review, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 19(1), pages 59-76, February.
    13. Thomä, Jörg & Bizer, Kilian, 2013. "To protect or not to protect? Modes of appropriability in the small enterprise sector," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 35-49.
    14. Stoneman, Paul, 2011. "Soft Innovation: Economics, Product Aesthetics, and the Creative Industries," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199697021.
    15. Miozzo, Marcela & Desyllas, Panos & Lee, Hsing-fen & Miles, Ian, 2016. "Innovation collaboration and appropriability by knowledge-intensive business services firms," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(7), pages 1337-1351.
    16. Joon Mahn Lee & Rahul Kapoor, 2017. "Complementarities and Coordination: Implications for Governance Mode and Performance of Multiproduct Firms," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 28(5), pages 931-946, October.
    17. Kosuke Hirose & Toshihiro Matsumura, 2016. "Payoff interdependence and the multi-store paradox," Asia-Pacific Journal of Accounting & Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(3), pages 256-267, July.
    18. Nicole Stofberg & Flore Bridoux & Francesca Ciulli & Niccolò Pisani & Ans Kolk & Marlene Vock, 2021. "A Relational‐Models View to Explain Peer‐to‐Peer Sharing," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(4), pages 1033-1069, June.
    19. Kai-Lung Hui, 2004. "Product Variety Under Brand Influence: An Empirical Investigation of Personal Computer Demand," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(5), pages 686-700, May.
    20. Wang, Pengfei, 2019. "Price space and product demography: Evidence from the workstation industry, 1980–1996," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(9), pages 1-1.

    More about this item


    Innovation; Trademark; Product substitutability;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:epolin:v:44:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s40812-016-0058-1. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Sonal Shukla or Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.