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Innovation and Imitation with and without Intellectual Property Rights


  • Pollock, Rufus


An extensive empirical literature indicates that returns from innovation are appropriated primarily via mechanisms other than formal intellectual property rights -- and that `imitation' is itself a costly activity. However most theory assumes the pure nonrivalry of `ideas' with its implication that, in the absence of intellectual property, innovation (and welfare) is zero. This paper introduces a formal model of innovation based on imperfect competition in which imitation is costly and an innovator has a first-mover advantage. Without intellectual property, a significant amount of innovation still occurs and welfare may actually be higher than with intellectual property.

Suggested Citation

  • Pollock, Rufus, 2006. "Innovation and Imitation with and without Intellectual Property Rights," MPRA Paper 5025, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 17 Jul 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:5025

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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. Hall, Bronwyn H., 2003. "Business Method Patents, Innovation, and Policy," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt2n24f63d, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    3. Pollock, Rufus, 2006. "Cumulative Innovation, Sampling and the Hold-Up Problem," MPRA Paper 5022, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 10 Aug 2007.
    4. Suzanne Scotchmer & Jerry Green, 1990. "Novelty and Disclosure in Patent Law," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(1), pages 131-146, Spring.
    5. 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.
    6. Nancy T. Gallini, 1992. "Patent Policy and Costly Imitation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 23(1), pages 52-63, Spring.
    7. James Bessen & Eric Maskin, 2006. "Sequential Innovation, Patents, and Innovation," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 321307000000000021,
    8. Mansfield, Edwin, 1985. "How Rapidly Does New Industrial Technology Leak Out?," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(2), pages 217-223, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Cerqueti, Roy & Quaranta, Anna Grazia & Ventura, Marco, 2016. "Innovation, imitation and policy inaction," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 22-30.

    More about this item


    Innovation; Imperfect Competition; Intellectual Property; Imitation;

    JEL classification:

    • L5 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • K3 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law

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