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Would Global Patent Protection be too Weak without International Coordination?

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

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.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3509.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3509
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  1. Gene M Grossman & Edwin L Lai, 2004. "International Protection of Intellectual Property," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000000442, David K. Levine.
  2. Ina Simonovska & Michael E. Waugh, 2011. "The Elasticity of Trade: Estimates and Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 3356, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-50, September.
  4. Kishore Gawande & Usree Bandyopadhyay, 2000. "Is Protection for Sale? Evidence on the Grossman-Helpman Theory of Endogenous Protection," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(1), pages 139-152, February.
  5. Timothy Dunne & J. Bradford Jensen & Mark J. Roberts, 2009. "Introduction to "Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data"," NBER Chapters, in: Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data, pages 1-12 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. McCalman, P., 1999. "Reaping What You Sow: An Empirical Analysis of International Patent Harmonization," Papers 374, Australian National University - Department of Economics.
  7. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Peter K. Schott, 2009. "Importers, Exporters and Multinationals: A Portrait of Firms in the U.S. that Trade Goods," NBER Chapters, in: Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data, pages 513-552 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Park, Walter G., 2008. "International patent protection: 1960-2005," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 761-766, May.
  9. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jenson & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 7688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Michele Boldrin & David K Levine, 2008. "Market Size and Intellectual Property Protection," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000001023, David K. Levine.
  11. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2004. "Export Versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 300-316, March.
  12. Devashish Mitra & Dimitrios Thomakos & Mehmet Ulubasoglu, 2006. "Can we obtain realistic parameter estimates for the `protection for sale' model?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(1), pages 187-210, February.
  13. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2004. "Dissecting trade: firms, industries, and export destinations," Staff Report 332, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  14. Devashish Mitra & Dimitrios D. Thomakos & Mehmet A. Ulubaşoglu, 2002. ""Protection For Sale" In A Developing Country: Democracy Vs. Dictatorship," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 497-508, August.
  15. Pinelopi Koujianou Goldbe & Giovanni Maggi, 1997. "Protection for Sale: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 5942, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Erzo G. J. Luttmer, 2007. "Selection, Growth, and the Size Distribution of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1103-1144, 08.
  17. Mark J. Melitz, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," NBER Working Papers 8881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Theo Eicher & Thomas Osang, 2002. "Protection for Sale: An Empirical Investigation: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1702-1710, December.
  19. Phillip McCalman, 2004. "Protection for Sale and Trade Liberalization: an Empirical Investigation," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(1), pages 81-94, 02.
  20. 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.
  21. Eaton, Jonathan & Kortum, Samuel, 1999. "International Technology Diffusion: Theory and Measurement," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 40(3), pages 537-70, August.
  22. Keith E. Maskus, 2000. "Intellectual Property Rights in the Global Economy," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 99, May.
  23. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  24. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 2002. "Multilateral trade negotiations, bilateral opportunism and the rules of GATT/WTO," Discussion Papers 0102-37, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
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