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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.-C. Lai, 2004. "International Protection of Intellectual Property," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1635-1653, December.
  2. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Peter K. Schott, 2005. "Importers, Exporters, and Multinationals: A Portrait of Firms in the U.S. that Trade Goods," NBER Working Papers 11404, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-50, September.
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  8. Michael Waugh & Ina Simonovska, 2010. "The Elasticity of Trade: Estimates and Evidence," 2010 Meeting Papers 637, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. 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.
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  11. Pinelopi Koujianou Goldbe & Giovanni Maggi, 1997. "Protection for Sale: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 5942, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  13. McCalman, Phillip, 2001. "Reaping what you sow: an empirical analysis of international patent harmonization," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 161-186, October.
  14. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2004. "Dissecting Trade: Firms, Industries, and Export Destinations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 150-154, May.
  15. Yeaple, Stephen & Helpman, Elhanan & Melitz, Marc, 2004. "Export versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," Scholarly Articles 3229098, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Park, Walter G., 2008. "International patent protection: 1960-2005," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 761-766, May.
  20. Simonovska, Ina; Waugh, Michael E., 2010. "The Elasticity of Trade: Estimates & Evidence," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 13, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  21. 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.
  22. Melitz, Marc J, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3381, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  23. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  24. Keith E. Maskus, 2000. "Intellectual Property Rights in the Global Economy," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 99, December.
  25. 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.
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