The Interaction between Private and Public IPR Protection in a Software Market: A Positive and Normative Analysis
Two software developers, each offering a product variety of different (exogenously given) quality, compete in prices for heterogeneous users who choose from purchasing a legal version, using an illegal copy, and not using a product at all. Using an illegal version violates intellectual property rights (IPR) and is thus punishable when disclosed. If a developer considers the level of piracy as high, he can introduce protection for his product in the form of restricting support and other services to illegal users. We study the positive and normative implications of the interaction between a regulator's IPR protection and the IPR protection that producers themselves may undertake to protect their IPR against the end users' software piracy. In particular, we aim to establish when the two forms of IPR protections (public and private) act as complements and when as substitutes to each other. Finally, we explore the situations in which there is (or is not) a conflict of interest between the regulator and the developers in this respect.
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