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Innovation and Intellectual Property Management (IIPM) Laboratory

Developing innovations for the digital economy, such as IoT devices and connected mobility solutions is likely to require OEMs to combine IP from multiple sources (licensors) who exploit their IP to as many as possible licensees (other OEMs). Those involved in the provision of what we call distributed multi-IP solutions (d-mIPs) find themselves entangled in a complex many-to-many network or ‘licensing web’ having to operate payments based on licensing contracts under a variety of terms and conditions.

In the digital economy and ‘pro-licensing era’ efficiently operating licensing payments to/from multiple licensors/licensees becomes increasingly mission-critical. Unfortunately, the current semi-manual processes are inherent of information asymmetries, uncertainties, trust problems and transaction costs, hence should probably be considered inefficient. This project explores the challenges licensees and licensors face when operating licensing payments for d-mIPs and the potential that distributed-ledger technologies, such as Blockchain, can offer to help pushing this business process into the digital economy. 

We are particularly interested in automated licensing payment systems (ALPS) based on distributed-ledger technologies and smart contracts for automating trustworthy licensing payments that can substantially reduce currently existing challenges. Those systems not only contribute to enabling the digital economy, but have further potential to enable new business models. ALPS are defined as platform technologies that enable the automated calculation, execution and verification of accurate payments from licensees to licensors. ALPS seek to lower costs for administering payments, while increasing accuracy, reducing the trust problem and eliminating the need for audits, overall enabling more efficient licensing and novel business models as well as contributing to fairer value distribution to inventors.


The project is kindly supported by Research England via the Connecting Capability Fund award CCF18-7157 - Promoting the Internet of Things via Collaboration between HEIs and Industry (Pitch-In project). 


Case study:


Video with ARM co-founder Jamie Urquhart and Prof. Jon Crowcroft: 

Short animation explaining ALPS

Pitch-In project page


Related publications

  • Theye, J., F. Tietze and D. Di Francesco Maesa (forthcoming). Introducing the Bill-of-IP: a novel concept for the digital IP management applied in a DLT-based smart licensing system. R&D Management Conference. Glasgow.
  • Tietze, F., D. Di Francesco Maesa and J. Theye (forthcoming). "Transactino Costs for on-demand IP licensing in the digital economy " Les Nouvelles.
  • Theye, J., D. Di Franceso-Maesa and F. Tietze (under review). "On-demand licensing for a fairer digital economy - A simulation study." Technovation.
  • Fletcher, S. and F. Tietze (forthcoming). Automating licensing payments for connected devices – A techno-economic analysis of DLT based systems. Blockchain: a managerial perspective for industry. F. Urmetzer, Springer.
  • Di Franceso-Maesa, D. , F. Tietze and J. Theye (2021). Putting Trust back in IP Licensing: DLT Smart Licenses for the Internet of Things. IEEE International Conference on Blockchain and Cryptocurrency. Virtual / Sydney.
  • Tietze, F., D. Di Francesco Maesa and J. Theye (2020). On-demand IP licensing for the digital economy. CTM Working Paper Series. University of Cambridge, UK. 
  • Tietze, F. and O. Granstrand (2019). Enabling the digital economy - distributed ledger technologies for automating IP licensing payments. Managing Innovation in a Global and Digital World - Meeting Societal Challenges and Enhancing Competitiveness. R. Tiwari and S. Buse, Springer Gabler.


Project lead: Dr Frank Tietze




News & Blog articles

Welcome to Andre Hemmelder

12 July 2023

André joined the Institute for Manufacturing as a visiting PhD student in the Innovation and Intellectual Property Management Lab. His research focuses on data-driven strategic decision-making in global battery technologies, with an emphasis on geostrategic issues. Specifically, he uses data science algorithms to extract...

Welcome to Hanna Jaeschke

11 July 2023

Hanna is currently doing a 6 month research stay at the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) at the University of Cambridge. In her research, she is working at the IIPM lab on the topic of intellectual property (IP) in a Crowdfunding context. In their work, they are investigating how the signal of IP protection affects the...