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Rent Seeking and Innovation

  • Michele Boldrin

Innovations and their adoption are the keys to growth and development. Innovations are less socially useful, but more profitable for the innovator, when they are adopted slowly and the innovator remains a monopolist. For this reason, rent-seeking, both public and private, plays an important role in determining the social usefulness of innovations. This paper examines the political economy of intellectual property, analyzing the trade-off between private and public rent-seeking. While it is true in principle that public rent-seeking may be a substitute for private rent-seeking, it is not true that this results always either in less private rent-seeking or in a welfare improvement. When the public sector itself is selfish and behaves rationally, we may experience the worst of public and private rent-seeking together.

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Paper provided by UCLA Department of Economics in its series Theory workshop papers with number 658612000000000063.

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Date of creation: 24 Oct 2003
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Handle: RePEc:cla:uclatw:658612000000000063
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.dklevine.com/

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  1. Michele Boldrin & David K. Levine, 2002. "Perfectly competitive innovation," Staff Report 303, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Suzanne Scotchmer, 1991. "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Cumulative Research and the Patent Law," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 29-41, Winter.
  3. Anton, James J & Yao, Dennis A, 1994. "Expropriation and Inventions: Appropriable Rents in the Absence of Property Rights," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 190-209, March.
  4. Boldrin, Michele & Levine, David, 2002. "The Case Against Intellectual Property," CEPR Discussion Papers 3273, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. James Bessen & Eric Maskin, 2009. "Sequential innovation, patents, and imitation," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(4), pages 611-635.
  6. Suzanne Scotchmer, 2004. "The Political Economy of Intellectual Property Treaties," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(2), pages 415-437, October.
  7. Bhattacharya, Sudipto & Ritter, Jay R, 1983. "Innovation and Communication: Signalling with Partial Disclosure," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 331-46, April.
  8. Saijo, Tatsuyoshi & Yamato, Takehiko, 1999. "A Voluntary Participation Game with a Non-excludable Public Good," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 227-242, February.
  9. Carlos Ponce, 2003. "Knowledge Disclosure as Intellectual Property Rights Protection," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000550, David K. Levine.
  10. Okuno-Fujiwara, Masahiro & Postlewaite, Andrew & Suzumura, Kotaro, 1990. "Strategic Information Revelation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(1), pages 25-47, January.
  11. Horstmann, Ignatius & MacDonald, Glenn M & Slivinski, Alan, 1985. "Patents as Information Transfer Mechanisms: To Patent or (Maybe) Not to Patent," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(5), pages 837-58, October.
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