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Intellectual property rights, strategy and policy

  • Lee Davis
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    This introductory essay to the special edition explores the changing role of intellectual property rights (IPRs), and the implications of these changes for firm strategy and industrial policy. Four recent, interrelated trends are important in this regard: (1) the growing prominence of intangible assets as sources of competitive advantage, (2) the globalization of business activities, (3) advances in digital technologies of replicability and transferability, and (4) changes in the legal framework governing the strength and scope of IPRs. We focus, in particular, on the impact of these trends on the importance and effectiveness of patents. We argue that while patents have become more valuable to firms, to fulfill a variety of strategic goals, they seem to have become less effective in actually motivating R&D. This distorts the 'bargain' implied by the patent system, increasing the social costs of patenting while decreasing the social benefits. To help restore this balance, various reforms may be implemented, including the use of alternative incentive systems.

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    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Economics of Innovation and New Technology.

    Volume (Year): 13 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 5 ()
    Pages: 399-415

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:ecinnt:v:13:y:2004:i:5:p:399-415
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    1. Michael Kremer, 2000. "Creating Markets for New Vaccines Part II: Design Issues," NBER Working Papers 7717, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. James Bessen & Robert M. Hunt, 2004. "An empirical look at software patents," Working Papers 03-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    3. Rosenberg, Nathan & Nelson, Richard R., 1994. "American universities and technical advance in industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 323-348, May.
    4. Davis, Lee N. & Meyer, Klaus E., 2004. "Subsidiary research and development, and the local environment," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 359-382, June.
    5. Wesley M Cohen & Richard R Nelson & John P Walsh, 2003. "Protecting Their Intellectual Assets: Appropriability Conditions and Why U.S. Manufacturing Firms Patent (Or Not)," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000624, David K. Levine.
    6. Steven Shavell & Tanguy van Ypersele, 1999. "Rewards versus Intellectual Property Rights," NBER Working Papers 6956, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Harris, Christopher J & Vickers, John S, 1985. "Patent Races and the Persistence of Monopoly," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(4), pages 461-81, June.
    8. Landes, William M & Posner, Richard A, 1987. "Trademark Law: An Economic Perspective," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 265-309, October.
    9. Arrow, Kenneth J, 1996. "Technical Information and Industrial Structure," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 645-52.
    10. Richard C. Levin & Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1988. "Appropriating the Returns from Industrial R&D," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 862, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    11. Stanley M. Besen & Leo J. Raskind, 1991. "An Introduction to the Law and Economics of Intellectual Property," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 3-27, Winter.
    12. Merges, Robert P. & Nelson, Richard R., 1994. "On limiting or encouraging rivalry in technical progress: The effect of patent scope decisions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 1-24, September.
    13. Kortum, Samuel & Lerner, Josh, 1999. "What is behind the recent surge in patenting?1," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 1-22, January.
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