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To Copy or not to Copy: Intellectual Property Rights, Imitation, and Trade

  • Jeff Thurk

    (University of Texas at Austin)

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    Empirical literature has largely concluded that increasing intellectual property rights (IPRs) leads to increased trade as firms see the value of their goods (and the ideas embodied in them) increase. These exercises, however, fail to incorporate the changing incentives of developing country firms to reallocate resources from imitative to innovative efforts. I develop a theoretical and empirically tractable Ricardian trade model to test how increasing intellectual property right standards affect trade flows and the composition of industrial development in both developed and developing countries. Using Mexico as an “average” developing economy, I find that a moderate increase in IPR standards leads to an 8% increase in imports from the United States and a 30% increase in Mexican firms choosing to reallocate resources from imitation towards innovation. These results suggest that the increase in trade and Mexican research capacity more than offsets any loss associated with foregone imitation.

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    Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2008 Meeting Papers with number 923.

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    Date of creation: 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:red:sed008:923
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA
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    1. Phillip McCalman, 2005. "Who enjoys `TRIPs' abroad? An empirical analysis of intellectual property rights in the Uruguay Round," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(2), pages 574-603, May.
    2. Natalia Ramondo, 2006. "Size, Geography, and Multinational Production," 2006 Meeting Papers 472, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Lybbert, Travis J., 2002. "On assessing the cost of TRIPS implementation," World Trade Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(03), pages 309-321, November.
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