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Rewards versus Intellectual Property Rights

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  • Steven Shavell
  • Tanguy van Ypersele

Abstract

This paper compares reward systems to intellectual property rights (patents and copyrights). Under a reward system, innovators are paid for innovations directly by government (possibly on the basis of sales), and innovations pass immediately into the public domain. Thus, reward systems engender incentives to innovate without creating the monopoly power of intellectual property rights, but a principal difficulty with rewards is the information required for their determination. We conclude in our model that intellectual property rights do not possess a fundamental social advantage over reward systems, and that an optional reward system under which innovators choose between rewards and intellectual property rights is superior to intellectual property rights.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven Shavell & Tanguy van Ypersele, 1999. "Rewards versus Intellectual Property Rights," NBER Working Papers 6956, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6956
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Machlup, Fritz & Penrose, Edith, 1950. "The Patent Controversy in the Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(01), pages 1-29, May.
    2. Suzanne Scotchmer, 1999. "On the Optimality of the Patent Renewal System," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(2), pages 181-196, Summer.
    3. Michael Kremer, 1997. "Patent Buy-Outs: A Mechanism for Encouraging Innovation," NBER Working Papers 6304, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Wright, Brian Davern, 1983. "The Economics of Invention Incentives: Patents, Prizes, and Research Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 691-707, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law

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