Intellectual Property

Leonardo has long been committed to improving and developing its intangible assets, generated both within the company and through external technology partnerships. In order to promote its Intellectual Property (IP), it is necessary to identify know-how and protect innovation potential, through the filing of patents and all other forms of industrial rights. This strategy is key to the company’s mission in the field of research and innovation in order to sustain its industrial growth internationally and to support Italy’s evolution in the field of high technology.


The strategic path embarked upon years ago is now strengthened thanks to our new divisional structure, aimed at establishing the company as a global player in technologies and solutions for the aerospace and defence sector. The company confirms its ability to innovate and protect the results of its investments and unique intellectual capital, and to generate positive results and revenue directly related to the strategic management of IP.



Patent portfolio in the world



The technological value of IP  

Throughout the last twenty years, the value of intangible assets (human capital, relational capital and IP) has far exceeded that of tangible resources (financial, fixed assets, machinery) in high technology sectors. Innovation has become the real source of competitive advantage and the ability to protect and promote IP deriving from it is becoming increasingly important.


With the launch of its new industrial structure, Leonardo aims to fully achieve its vision for the valorisation , management and protection of intellectual property, which is to strengthen and consolidate all IP management activities and related operational processes.


The main areas of development (in terms of protectiont and exploitation) are our technology platforms, which are most representative of our distinctive expertise and hold much of our intellectual property.



Distribution of patents by technological platforms




The main technological IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) are represented by those related to "System Design" (26%), including fluid dynamics, aerodynamics, electromagnetism, architectures and systems ergonomics. "Optronics and Acoustics", with both active and passive technologies, represent fundamental IPR (14%) as well, while "Materials and their production processes" constitute another substantial portion (12%), which includes composite materials, ceramic materials, surface treatment and plastic materials. "Electronics" (11%) "Mechanics"(8%) and "Modelling, Simulation and Computing"(6%) are the essential IPR holding together the development of Leonardo's products, services and systems.

The industrial value of IP 

The operations relating to the lifecycle of patents are conducted directly by Leonardo’s divisions. On a quarterly basis, the Corporate assess the quantitative and qualitative evolution of its portfolio and supports all operations for the internal and external promotion of IPR.

The Electronics, Defence and Security sector produces the most of patents (61%), followed by Aeronautics (14%), Helicopters (12%) and Space sector with Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space Italia (5%). The evolution of our patent portfolio has had in the last ten years a 5% composite average growth rate (CAGR) overall, going from few patent families active in the portfolio way back in 1995 to the thousands of patent families existing today.


A sustained growth rate that, in the 2005-2008 period, involved the Group catching up with competitors with very high numbers of new patent applications; in the next years 2009-2012, the growth rate stabilized at levels close to the aerospace sector average, with a significant increase in selectivity with respect to the technologies and industrial processes to be protected; in 2013-2016, growth was moderate, but remained positive.