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Integrating intellectual property and sustainable business models: The SBM-IP canvas

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Hernández-Chea, R 
Vimalnath, Pratheeba  ORCID logo
Bocken, N 
Eppinger, E 


jats:pCompanies attempt to address global sustainability challenges through innovating products, services, and business models. This paper focuses on sustainable business model (SBM) innovations as a way to systemically transform businesses towards sustainability. It has been widely recognized that strategic approaches to using intellectual property (IP) need to be aligned with business model innovation for commercial success. Here we suggest that IP, aligned with SBMs, can also be used to create not only commercial, but also societal and environmental impact. Knowledge about how to best align IP with SBMs to drive sustainability transitions remains limited. We address this gap by developing an SBM-IP canvas that integrates IP considerations into each of the SBM canvas building blocks. We do this by employing relevant theoretical concepts from three literature streams, namely the business model (including SBM), IP, and innovation literature. We use case examples to illustrate different IP considerations that are relevant for the SBM-IP building blocks. These examples show that different IP types (e.g., patents, trademarks) and ways of using them (e.g., more or less restrictive licensing) are applied by companies in relation to the different building blocks. While covering new theoretical ground, the proposed SBM-IP canvas can help decision makers understand how they can use different IP types strategically to propose, create, deliver, and capture sustainable value for society, environment, and the business.</jats:p>



sustainable business models (SBMs), intellectual property (IP), sustainability transition, business model canvas, IP strategy

Journal Title

Sustainability (Switzerland)

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Volume Title



Economic and Social Research Council (ES/S008322/1)