Slot 4

Intellectual Property Rights as a Business Tool
Riccardo Apreda, Erre Quadro, Italy


Intellectual Property (patents, trademarks, etc.) is often seen merely as a defensive tool, to protect good ideas from copycats. Some people may even consider the issue marginal with respect to their work. Actually, IPRs are one of the most important tools an entrepreneur can use to generate value for their business, and not taking them into proper consideration may lead to fateful consequences.

The course will first introduce the various types of Intellectual Property, from patents to copyright to trade secrets, also addressing some common misconceptions. It will also discuss what can be protected and what cannot, with a particular focus on the case of “programs for computer” (software).

Then, the course will analyze more in detail and with examples taken from real cases, the various roles in which IPRs can be relevant for business (and even more so for start-ups and spin-offs), covering the following topics.

- How to manage IP to protect the company’s market share and avoid costly litigations.
- How to structure defensive, aggressive or cooperative IP strategies.
- How to guide R&D in developing better products and finding new applications.
- How to harness the informative value of IP to take strategic decisions, using competitive intelligence and technology foresight.
- How to increase the value of the company, attract investments, find business partners.


Riccardo Apreda, PhD, is R&D Director of Erre Quadro S.r.l. and President of GATE S.p.A. He holds a M.Sc. in Physics at University of Pisa (“summa cum laude”) and a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from the same university. After few years of an academic career with positions in Italy, Germany and UK, he decided to become an entrepreneur, and in 2008 co-founded Erre Quadro, a company specialized in the extraction and management of knowledge in various business contexts.

His present research interests include: algorithms for the automatic analysis of texts, with a particular focus on patent data; information and ontologies extraction; Intellectual Property valorisation and assessment; and technology foresight. Besides internal research, he also directly supervised over a hundred business projects on product innovation or strategic analysis for SMEs, large enterprises and institutions alike, and has been scientific coordinator (industrial side) for three EU projects, as well as two national ones.

In 2018, he supervised the creation of an Enterprise Accelerator in Pisa, and in 2019 co-founded GATE SpA, a platform for business integration and the scaling up of new ventures.

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