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IPRs, Technological Development, and Economic Development

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  • Dolfsma, W.A.

Abstract

In the year 2000 some $142 billion in royalties were paid internationally by users of a specific piece of knowledge that were protected under Intellectual Property Right law (IPR) to those parties that owned these rights. Under current circumstances where knowledge & innovation play an increasingly significant role in the economy (Foray & Lundvall 1996, Cowan, David and Foray 2000, Cooke 2002, Dolfsma & Soete 2006, Dolfsma 2005). IPRs have become increasingly prominent in debates and are almost unanimously deemed to favor economic development by policymakers, and certainly by policymakers in developed countries. While it has been acknowledged that some parties may benefit more from a system of IPRs than others, in relative terms a Pareto improvement is the expected outcome (Langford 1997). This has not always been the case. In addition, the academic (economic) community is almost unanimous about the system of IPR overshooting its goals. This has been the motivation to include IPRs in the WTO negotiations. The TRIPS agreement (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) has resulted in 1994 from these negotiations. Especially during the 1990s the number of patents granted has grown tremendously despite the fact that many a scholar still supports Machlup’s (1958, p.28) conclusion that: “it would be irresponsible, on the basis of our present knowledge of its consequences, to recommend instituting one. But since we have had a patent system for a long time, it would be irresponsible, on the basis of our present knowledge, to recommend abolishing it.” From other corners, where specific effects of IPRs are considered, a different and less circumspect sound may be heard. Examples of this are attempts to make available HIV/AIDS drugs at a reduced price compared to what the pharmaceutical companies that have the patents on these drugs demand. I will focus on patents. Empirical and theoretical findings bearing on the question of IPRs’ effect on technological development, and thus prospect for economic development, are reviewed. Static and dynamic effects are distinguished. Areas where static effects may be expected include transfer of knowledge, balance of payment effects, effects for large as opposed to small firms, and effect on the ‘extent of the market’. Areas for dynamic effects include technological development and technological preemption. The list may not be exhaustive, and effects are interlocking: they may be mutually reinforcing or they may conflict. I will mostly focus on ‘dynamic’ effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Dolfsma, W.A., 2006. "IPRs, Technological Development, and Economic Development," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2006-004-ORG, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
  • Handle: RePEc:ems:eureri:7301
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Dr Johannes Stephan, 2004. "Evolving Structural Patterns in the Enlarging European Division of Labour: Sectoral and Branch Specialisation and the Potentials for Closing the Productivity Gap," Development and Comp Systems 0403003, EconWPA.
    2. Adams, Samuel, 2008. "Globalization and income inequality: Implications for intellectual property rights," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 725-735.
    3. Dolfsma, Wilfred & van der Panne, Gerben, 2008. "Currents and sub-currents in innovation flows: Explaining innovativeness using new-product announcements," Research Policy, Elsevier, pages 1706-1716.
    4. Gnangnon, Kimm & Moser, Constance Besse, 2014. "Intellectual property rights protection and export diversification: The application of utility model laws," WTO Staff Working Papers ERSD-2014-19, World Trade Organization (WTO), Economic Research and Statistics Division.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic Dynamics; IPRs; Intellectual Property Rights; Technological Development;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • M - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics
    • M13 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - New Firms; Startups
    • O23 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Fiscal and Monetary Policy in Development
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D

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