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The Political Economy of Intellectual Property Treaties

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  • Suzanne Scotchmer

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Suzanne Scotchmer, 2004. "The Political Economy of Intellectual Property Treaties," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(2), pages 415-437, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:20:y:2004:i:2:p:415-437
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gene M. Grossman & Edwin L.-C. Lai, 2004. "International Protection of Intellectual Property," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1635-1653, December.
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    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • L5 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy

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