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Does Intellectual Monopoly Help Innovation?

  • Boldrin Michele

    (Washington University in St. Louis)

  • Levine David K.

    (Washington University in St. Louis)

In this paper, we begin our analysis of copyrights and patents by asking: why should creators have the right to control how purchasers make use of an idea or new good? This gives creators a monopoly over the idea. We refer to this right as “intellectual monopoly,” to emphasize that it is this monopoly over all copies of an idea that is controversial, not the right to buy and sell copies. The government does not ordinarily enforce monopolies for producers of other goods. This is because it is widely recognized that monopoly creates many social costs. Intellectual monopoly is no different in this respect. The question we address is whether it also creates social benefits commensurate with these social costs.

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Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Review of Law & Economics.

Volume (Year): 5 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (December)
Pages: 991-1024

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:rlecon:v:5:y:2009:i:3:n:2
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  1. Paul M Romer, 1999. "Increasing Returns and Long-Run Growth," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2232, David K. Levine.
  2. Christine MacLeod & Alessandro Nuvolari, 2006. "Inventive Activities, Patents and Early Industrialization. A Synthesis of Research Issues," DRUID Working Papers 06-28, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  3. Schankerman, Mark & Pakes, Ariel, 1986. "Estimates of the Value of Patent Rights in European Countries during the Post-1950 Period," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 96(384), pages 1052-76, December.
  4. Michele Boldrin & David K Levine, 2008. "Against Intellectual Monopoly," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000002371, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. Adam B. Jaffe & Josh Lerner, 2006. "Innovation and its Discontents," NBER Chapters, in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 6, pages 27-66 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Charles Engel, 2002. "Expenditure Switching and Exchange Rate Policy," NBER Working Papers 9016, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Michele Boldrin & David K Levine, 2008. "Appropriation and Intellectual Property," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002262, David K. Levine.
  8. George Selgin & John Turner, 2006. "James Watt As Intellectual Monopolist: Comment On Boldrin And Levine," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1341-1348, November.
  9. Gallini, Nancy & Scotchmer, Suzanne, 2001. "Intellectual Property: When Is It the Best Incentive System?," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt9wx2c2hz, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  10. Michele Boldrin & David K Levine, 2004. "The Economics of Ideas and Intellectual Property," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000000631, David K. Levine.
  11. Mark A Lemley, 2004. "Ex Ante versus Ex Post Justifications for Intellectual Property," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000000492, David K. Levine.
  12. Sunil Kanwar & Robert E Evanson, 2004. "Does Intellectual Property Protection Spur Technological Change?," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000000455, David K. Levine.
  13. Petra Moser, 2005. "How Do Patent Laws Influence Innovation? Evidence from Nineteenth-Century World's Fairs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1214-1236, September.
  14. Michele Boldrin & David K Levine, 2005. "IP and Market Size," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000836, David K. Levine.
  15. Michael Kremer, 2000. "Creating Markets for New Vaccines Part II: Design Issues," NBER Working Papers 7717, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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