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Innovation, Imitation and Open Source

  • Rufus Pollock

An extensive empirical literature indicates that, even without formal intellectual property rights, innovators enjoy a variety of first-mover advantages and that `imitation' is itself a costly activity. There is also accumulating evidence that an `open' approach to knowledge production can deliver substantial efficiency advantages. This paper introduces a formal framework incorporating all of these factors. We examine the relative performance of an `open' versus a `closed' (proprietary) regime, and explicitly characterise the circumstances in which an open approach, despite its effect on facilitating imitation, results in a higher level of innovation.

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File URL: http://www.eeri.eu/documents/wp/EERI_RP_2008_20.pdf
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Paper provided by Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels in its series EERI Research Paper Series with number EERI_RP_2008_20.

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Length: 21 pages
Date of creation: 20 Nov 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:eei:rpaper:eeri_rp_2008_20
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  1. Scherer, F M, 1972. "Nordhaus' Theory of Optimal Patent Life: A Geometric Reinterpretation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(3), pages 422-27, June.
  2. Wesley M Cohen & Richard R Nelson & John P Walsh, 2003. "Protecting Their Intellectual Assets: Appropriability Conditions and Why U.S. Manufacturing Firms Patent (Or Not)," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000624, David K. Levine.
  3. Mansfield, Edwin, 1985. "How Rapidly Does New Industrial Technology Leak Out?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(2), pages 217-23, December.
  4. Hopenhayn, Hugo A & Mitchell, Matthew F, 2001. "Innovation Variety and Patent Breadth," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(1), pages 152-66, Spring.
  5. Pollock, R. & Stepan, P. & Välimäki, M., 2010. "The Value of the EU Public Domain," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1047, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  6. Maria Alessandra Rossi, 2004. "Decoding the "Free/Open Source(F/OSS) Software Puzzle" a survey of theoretical and empirical contributions," Department of Economics University of Siena 424, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
  7. Klemperer, Paul, 1990. "How Broad Should the Scope of Patent Protection Be?," CEPR Discussion Papers 392, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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