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The Political Economy of Intellectual Property Treaties

  • Suzanne Scotchmer

Intellectual property treaties create two types of obligations: for national treatment of foreign inventors and for certain harmonized protections. I investigate both the incentive to join such treaties and the incentive to harmonize. As compared to an equilibrium in which the countries' policy makers make independent choices, harmonization will generally strengthen protections. This analysis recognizes that public sponsorship is sometimes an efficient alternative to intellectual property. However, there are no institutions to harmonize public spending, and there are no international mechanisms to repatriate the spillovers it generates. As a consequence, there may be too little public sponsorship and too much intellectual property. A country's inclination to strengthen harmonized protections will depend both on its innovativeness (positively) and on the size of its domestic market (negatively). Copyright 2004, Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization.

Volume (Year): 20 (2004)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
Pages: 415-437

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Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:20:y:2004:i:2:p:415-437
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  1. Lai, Edwin L. -C. & Qiu, Larry D., 2003. "The North's intellectual property rights standard for the South?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 183-209, January.
  2. Nancy Gallini and Suzanne Scotchmer., 2001. "Intellectual Property: When Is It the Best Incentive System?," Economics Working Papers E01-303, University of California at Berkeley.
  3. Suzanne Scotchmer, 2003. "The political economy of intellectual property treaties," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
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  8. Lanjouw, Jean O. & Cockburn, Iain M., 2001. "New Pills for Poor People? Empirical Evidence after GATT," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 265-289, February.
  9. Keith E. Maskus, 2000. "Intellectual Property Rights in the Global Economy," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 99, May.
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  12. Moonsung Kang, 2000. "Patent Protection and Strategic Trade Policy," Trade Working Papers 21761, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
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