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    The Catholic University of Leuven and research bureau IDEA Consult conducted a study on the characteristics of companies that apply for intellectual property protection. The study was commissioned by the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) and the FPS Economy.


    This study examined the patents, trademarks, designs, drawings and plant breeders' rights of 15,193 Belgian companies during the period 2010-2019. A total of 82,190 intellectual property rights (IPRs) were registered, an average of 5.4 per company. These characteristics of companies with IPRs were then compared to 474,315 companies without IPRs. Both the average and compound growth of the companies, as well as their productivity, were examined. 

    Results of the study

     The study revealed that the companies that apply for IPRs are characterised by:

    1. Their age: the older a company is, the greater the number and scope of their IPRs; 
    2. Their size: on average, SMEs have fewer IPRs (90% of SMEs have 1 IPR); 
    3. Their productivity: more IPRs gives a higher productivity;
    4. Their activity: ‘wholesale and retail’ companies have more IPRs;

    Companies with IPRs have a higher growth rate in employment and a higher productivity (a higher gross added value of a company per employee). 

    The compound growth rate of companies with IPRs is 2.5% higher than that of similar companies without IPRs. For SMEs, this is 0.4%.

    Concerning the productivity, an average higher productivity can be determined in companies with IPRs, but with differences in het number and the scope of IPRs. The productivity of companies with IPRs is 13.9% higher than that of similar companies without IPRs. Productivity is higher among SMEs with IPRs than among similar companies without IPRs.  With regard to large companies, productivity is lower in companies with IPRs than in similar companies without IPRs, except for those that own both patents and trademarks. 

    Read the study and the general overview

    Presentation of the econometric analysis

    On 26 April 2022, the FPS Economy organised a webinar to present the econometric analysis and to debate the subject. (Dutch and French spoken)

    Last update
    22 February 2024