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The objective of the study was to analyse the use and importance of formal IPR, especially patents, and informal protection strategies for service companies on the basis of an in-depth understanding of the "innovation process" in the different service sectors. Around 7% of service companies have applied for patents, compared to 25% in the manufacturing sector. Case studies of 65 service companies in 10 Member States found that the role of IPR for the innovation process is only of minor importance among the set of innovation strategies. The study concludes that patents are an innovation indicator of only limited value for the service sector in general, but adequate for specific service sectors, like telecommunications. As regards alternative indicators, the registration of trademarks may be helpful.

The report was prepared by a team co-ordinated by Fraunhofer Institute Systems and Innovation Research (FhG-ISI), Karlsruhe, Germany, under EC Contract No ERBHPV2-CT-1999-06.

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