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Innovation, Imitation and Open Source

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  • Rufus Pollock

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Rufus Pollock, 2008. "Innovation, Imitation and Open Source," EERI Research Paper Series EERI_RP_2008_20, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
  • Handle: RePEc:eei:rpaper:eeri_rp_2008_20
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    File URL: http://www.eeri.eu/documents/wp/EERI_RP_2008_20.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hopenhayn, Hugo A & Mitchell, Matthew F, 2001. "Innovation Variety and Patent Breadth," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(1), pages 152-166, Spring.
    2. Paul Klemperer, 1990. "How Broad Should the Scope of Patent Protection Be?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 113-130, Spring.
    3. Wesley M. Cohen & Richard R. Nelson & John P. Walsh, 2000. "Protecting Their Intellectual Assets: Appropriability Conditions and Why U.S. Manufacturing Firms Patent (or Not)," NBER Working Papers 7552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Mansfield, Edwin, 1985. "How Rapidly Does New Industrial Technology Leak Out?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(2), pages 217-223, December.
    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. Scherer, F M, 1972. "Nordhaus' Theory of Optimal Patent Life: A Geometric Reinterpretation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(3), pages 422-427, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Engelhardt, Sebastian v. & Freytag, Andreas, 2013. "Institutions, culture, and open source," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 90-110.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Innovation; Imitation; Intellectual Property; Openness; Open Source;

    JEL classification:

    • L17 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Open Source Products and Markets
    • L5 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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