The paper clarified the concept of innovation activity of firms from the perspective of the model open innovation with traditional and alternative approaches to the methods of the protection of innovation activity results outlined. With the use of institutional tools, theoretical concepts and practical study the patterns of innovative activity of firms (external, internal & cooperative strategies) are analyzed and the selection criteria for models of innovation are proposed on the basis of a comparison of transaction costs and benefits specific to the closed forms and conditions for cooperation. The forms of cooperation, their pros & cons are mentioned given the results of some empirical evidence. Practical recommendations for the Russian companies to organize their innovation activities are given, as well as on the improvement of competition policy with regard to the inclusion of innovation factor in the analysis of mergers in Russia (also based on the mechanism of the use of this factor by means of merger simulation models). The paper also suggests the criteria for the evaluation of collaborative R&D projects of firms as antitrust tools aimed to use the “rule of reason” when the decisions are made.