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Would Global Patent Protection be too Weak without International Coordination?

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  • Edwin L.-C. Lai
  • Isabel K.-M. Yan

Abstract

This paper analyzes the setting of national patent policies in the global economy. In the standard model with free trade and social-welfare-maximizing governments à la Grossman and Lai (2004), cross-border positive policy externalities induce individual countries to select patent strengths that are weaker than is optimal from a global perspective. The paper introduces three new features to the analysis: trade barriers, firm heterogeneity in terms of productivity and political economy considerations in setting patent policies. The first two features (trade barriers interacting with firm heterogeneity) tend to reduce the size of cross-border externalities in patent protection and therefore make national IPR policies closer to the global optimum. With firm lobbying creating profit-bias of the government, it is even possible that the equilibrium strength of global patent protection is greater than the globally efficient level. Thus, the question of under-protection or not is an empirical one. Based on calibration exercises, we find that there would be global under-protection of patent rights when there is no international policy coordination. Furthermore, requiring all countries to harmonize their patent standards with the equilibrium standard of the most innovative country (the US) does not lead to global over-protection of patent rights.

Suggested Citation

  • Edwin L.-C. Lai & Isabel K.-M. Yan, 2011. "Would Global Patent Protection be too Weak without International Coordination?," CESifo Working Paper Series 3509, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3509
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Briggs, Kristie, 2013. "Does patent harmonization impact the decision and volume of high technology trade?," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 35-51.
    2. Ming Liu & Sumner la Croix, 2013. "A Cross-Country Index of Intellectual Property Rights in Pharmaceutical Innovations," Working Papers 201313, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
    3. Wu, Tommy T., 2015. "Firm heterogeneity, trade, multinationals, and growth: A quantitative evaluation," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 359-375.
    4. Kamal Saggi, 2016. "Trade, Intellectual Property Rights, and the World Trade Organization," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 16-00014, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    5. Difei Geng & Kamal Saggi, 2013. "The case for non-discrimination in the international protection of intellectual property," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 13-00017, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    6. Geng, Difei & Saggi, Kamal, 2015. "Is there a case for non-discrimination in the international protection of intellectual property?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 14-28.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    intellectual property rights; patents; TRIPS; harmonization;

    JEL classification:

    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations

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