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Parallel Trade, International Exhaustion and Intellectual Property Rights: A Welfare Analysis


  • Szymanski, Stefan
  • Valletti, Tommaso


This paper analyses the issue of parallel trade (arbitrage) for products protected by intellectual property rights. Many countries have traditionally allowed owners of intellectual property rights to prohibit arbitrage in the face of international price discrimination. In a well-known paper Malueg and Schwartz (1994) showed that this policy decreases social welfare when the same markets are served in both regimes, with and without arbitrage. Their model considered only the setting of prices, and not investment in product development. We consider a two-stage game where firms choose quality first and then prices. Since the threat of arbitrage ex post reduces the incentive to invest ex ante, the net benefits of parallel trade may vanish. We also show that the size of the welfare effects is significantly affected by the presence of a ‘generic’ product, which represents a form of competition for the monopolist. The monopolist will introduce a ‘fighting brand’ to compete with the generic, which dilutes but does not eliminate the result on the adverse effects of parallel trade on investments.

Suggested Citation

  • Szymanski, Stefan & Valletti, Tommaso, 2005. "Parallel Trade, International Exhaustion and Intellectual Property Rights: A Welfare Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 5022, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5022

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Malueg, David A. & Schwartz, Marius, 1994. "Parallel imports, demand dispersion, and international price discrimination," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3-4), pages 167-195, November.
    2. Bae, Sang Hoo & Choi, Jay Pil, 2006. "A model of piracy," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 303-320, September.
    3. Keith E. Maskus, 2000. "Parallel Imports," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(9), pages 1269-1284, September.
    4. Jerry A. Hausman & Jeffrey K. MacKie-Mason, 1988. "Price Discrimination and Patent Policy," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 19(2), pages 253-265, Summer.
    5. Justin P. Johnson & David P. Myatt, 2003. "Multiproduct Quality Competition: Fighting Brands and Product Line Pruning," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 748-774, June.
    6. Stephen W. Salant, 1989. "When is Inducing Self-Selection Suboptimal for a Monopolist?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(2), pages 391-397.
    7. Richardson, Martin, 2002. "An elementary proposition concerning parallel imports," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 233-245, January.
    8. Keith E. Maskus & Yongmin Chen, 2004. "Vertical Price Control and Parallel Imports: Theory and Evidence," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(4), pages 551-570, September.
    9. Che, Yeon-Koo & Gale, Ian, 2000. "The Optimal Mechanism for Selling to a Budget-Constrained Buyer," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 198-233, June.
    10. Mussa, Michael & Rosen, Sherwin, 1978. "Monopoly and product quality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 301-317, August.
    11. Nancy L. Stokey, 1979. "Intertemporal Price Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(3), pages 355-371.
    12. Abbott, Frederick M, 1998. "First Report (Final) to the Committee on International Trade Law of the International Law Association on the Subject of Parallel Importation," Journal of International Economic Law, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(4), pages 607-636, December.
    13. Aidan Hollis, 2002. "The importance of being first: evidence from Canadian generic pharmaceuticals," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(8), pages 723-734.
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    More about this item


    investments; parallel trade; price discrimination;

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • L12 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Monopoly; Monopolization Strategies
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital

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