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Cumulative Innovation, Growth and Welfare-Improving Patent Policy

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  • Edwin Lai

    (Hong Kong University of Science and Tech)

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    Abstract

    We construct a tractable general equilibrium model of cumulative innovation and growth, in which new ideas strictly improve upon frontier technologies, and productivity improvements are drawn in a stochastic manner. The presence of positive knowledge spillovers implies that the decentralized equilibrium features an allocation of labor to R&D activity that is strictly lower than the social planner's benchmark, which suggests a role for patent policy. We focus on a "non-infringing inventive step" requirement, which stipulates the minimum improvement to the best patented technology that a new idea needs to make for it to be patentable and non-infringing. We establish that there exists a finite required inventive step that maximizes the rate of innovation, as well as a separate optimal required inventive step that maximizes welfare, with the former being strictly greater than the latter. These conclusions are robust to allowing for the availability of an additional instrument in the form of patent length policy.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2013 Meeting Papers with number 854.

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    Date of creation: 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:red:sed013:854

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    1. Costas Arkolakis, 2011. "A Unified Theory of Firm Selection and Growth," NBER Working Papers 17553, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Green, J.R. & Scotchmer, S., 1993. "On the Division of Profit in Sequential Innovation," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1638, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    3. Jesse Perla & Christopher Tonetti, 2014. "Equilibrium Imitation and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 122(1), pages 52 - 76.
    4. Antonio Minniti & Carmelo Parello & Paul Segerstrom, 2013. "A Schumpeterian growth model with random quality improvements," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 52(2), pages 755-791, March.
    5. Robert E. Lucas, Jr. & Benjamin Moll, 2011. "Knowledge Growth and the Allocation of Time," NBER Working Papers 17495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Robert M. Hunt, 2002. "Patentability, industry structure, and innovation," Working Papers 01-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    7. Kwan, Yum K. & Lai, Edwin L. -C., 2003. "Intellectual property rights protection and endogenous economic growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 853-873, March.
    8. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2001. "Technology, Trade, and Growth: A Unified Fremework," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-110, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    9. Boldrin,Michele & Levine,David K., 2008. "Against Intellectual Monopoly," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521879286.
    10. repec:fth:bosecd:110 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Sakakibara, Mariko & Branstetter, Lee, 2001. "Do Stronger Patents Induce More Innovation? Evidence from the 1988 Japanese Patent Law Reforms," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(1), pages 77-100, Spring.
    12. Paul Klemperer, 1990. "How Broad Should the Scope of Patent Protection Be?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 113-130, Spring.
    13. Nancy T. Gallini, 1992. "Patent Policy and Costly Imitation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(1), pages 52-63, Spring.
    14. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, December.
    15. Denicolo, Vincenzo, 1996. "Patent Races and Optimal Patent Breadth and Length," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(3), pages 249-65, September.
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