Measure of Design M&As: Exploratory investigations of IP analysis in design


  • Daejung Kim Daejung Kim is a Ph.D. student at the Graduate School of Technology and Innovation Management
  • Jieun Kim Jieun Kim is a professor at the Graduate School of Technology and Innovation Management, and jointly affiliated with the Department of Arts and Technology, in Hanyang University in Korea. She received the M.S and Ph.D. degrees in Industrial Engineering from Arts et Métiers ParisTech in 2008 and 2011, respectively. During her PhD, her research focused on design thinking and creativity. After her Ph.D. she joined the Royal College of Art in London and coordinated an interdisciplinary master programme (IDE) dedicated to designers from RCA and engineers from Imperial College London. Her current research interests cover tools and techniques for design innovation and service management.


Despite active participation of design firms in M&A markets, there has been little research measuring the value of design M&As. It is partially due that design has been seen to be an intangible asset. This paper seeks to the understanding of the value of design M&As and provides a possible metric for measuring the value using patent analysis. The value of design M&A was investigated at two levels: Design as differentiator (i.e., new product development) and Design as coordinator or integrator (i.e., organizational growth). The evolution of patenting quantity (e.g., the number of design patent applications, Locarno classes) and quality (e.g., forward citation, coinventor networks) in pre- and post-acquisition deals was suggested. We conducted a case study using the design and utility patents of Adobe Systems Inc. The results show the dynamics of innovation area and the presence of the high values of inventors holding design-tech linkage, which could be a potential intangible source of company growth. This study further provides implications for companies which might consider design M&As as new ways of design investment.






Special Issue: Design Management