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Intellectual property rights, licensing, and innovation

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  • Guifang Yang
  • Maskus, Keith E.

Abstract

There is considerable debate in economics literature on whether a decision by developing countries to strengthen their protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs) will increase or reduce their access to modern technologies invented by industrial countries. This access can be achieved through technology transfer of various kinds, including foreign direct investment and licensing. Licensing is the focus of this paper.To the extent that inventing firms choose to act more monopolistically and offer fewer technologies on the market, stronger IPRs could reduce international technology flows. However, to the extent that IPRs raise the returns to innovation and licensing, these flows would expand. In theory, the outcome depends on how IPRs affect several variables-the costs of, and returns to, international licensing; the wage advantage of workers in poor countries; the innovation process in industrial countries; and the amount of labor available for innovation and production. The authors develop a theoretical model in which firms in the North (industrial countries) innovate products of higher quality levels and decide whether to produce in the North or transfer production rights to the South (developing countries) through licensing. Different quality levels of each product are sold in equilibrium because of differences in consumers'willingness-to-pay for quality improvements. Contracting problems exist because the inventors in the North must indicate to licensees in the South whether their product is of higher or lower quality and also prevent the licensees from copying the technology. So, constraints in the model ensure that the equilibrium flow of licensing higher-quality goods meets these objectives. When the South strengthens its patent rights, copying by licensees is made costlier but the returns to licensing are increased. This change affects the dynamic decisions regarding innovation and technology transfer, which could rise or fall depending on market parameters, including the labor available for research and production. Results from the model show that the net effects depend on the balance between profits made by the Northern licensor and lower labor costs in the South. If the size of the labor force used in Northern innovation compared with that used in producing goods in both the North and South is sufficiently small (a condition that accords with reality), stronger IPRs in the South would lead to more licensing and innovation. This change would also increase the Southern wage relative to the Northern wage. So, in this model a decision by developing countries to increase their patent rights would expand global innovation and increase technology transfer. This result is consistent with recent empirical evidence. It should be noted that while the results suggest that international agreements to strengthen IPRs should expand global innovation and technology transfer through licensing, the model cannot be used for welfare analysis. Thus, while the developing countries enjoy more inward licensing, the cost per license could be higher, and prices could also rise, with an unclear overall effect on economic well-being.

Suggested Citation

  • Guifang Yang & Maskus, Keith E., 2003. "Intellectual property rights, licensing, and innovation," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2973, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2973
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. GianCarlo Moschini, 2003. "Intellectual Property Rights and the World Trade Organization: Retrospect and Prospects," Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications 03-wp334, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.
    2. Gancia, Gino & Bonfiglioli, Alessandra, 2008. "North-South trade and directed technical change," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 276-295, December.
    3. Antonio Andrés, 2006. "The relationship between copyright software protection and piracy: Evidence from europe," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 29-51, January.
    4. Fink, Carsten, 2000. "How stronger patent protection in India might affect the behavior of transnational pharaceutical industries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2352, The World Bank.
    5. Peter Nunnenkamp & Julius Spatz, 2004. "Intellectual property rights and foreign direct investment: A disaggregated analysis," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 140(3), pages 393-414, September.
    6. Medvedev, Denis, 2006. "Beyond trade : the impact of preferential trade agreements on foreign direct investment inflows," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4065, The World Bank.
    7. Smarzynska Javorcik, Beata, 2004. "The composition of foreign direct investment and protection of intellectual property rights: Evidence from transition economies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 39-62, February.
    8. Javorcik, Beata, 1999. "Composition of Foreign Direct Investment and Protection of Intellectual Property Rights in Transition Economies," CEPR Discussion Papers 2228, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Sumner J. La Croix & Denise Eby Konan, 2002. "Intellectual Property Rights in China: The Changing Political Economy of Chinese-American Interests," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(6), pages 759-788, June.
    10. Singh, Lakhwinder, 2006. "Globalization, national innovation systems and response of public policy," MPRA Paper 641, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Keith Maskus, 1998. "The international regulation of intellectual property," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 134(2), pages 186-208, June.
    12. Guifang Yang & Keith Maskus, 2001. "Intellectual property rights and licensing: An econometric investigation," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 137(1), pages 58-79, March.
    13. Antonio Rodriguez Andres, 2004. "The Relationship Between Software Protection And Piracy: Evidence From Europe," Law and Economics 0402001, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Kamal Saggi, 2016. "Trade, Intellectual Property Rights, and the World Trade Organization," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 16-00014, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    15. J. David Richardson, 1992. ""New" Trade Theory and Policy a Decade Old: Assessment in a Pacific Context," NBER Working Papers 4042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Panle Gia & Pinelopi K. Goldberg & Shubham Chaudhuri, 2006. "Estimating the Effects of Global Patent Protection in Pharmaceuticals: A Case Study of Quinolones in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1477-1514, December.
    17. Fink, Carsten & Braga, Carlos A. Primo, 1999. "How stronger protection of intellectual property rights affects international trade flows," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2051, The World Bank.
    18. Sumner J La Croix & Denise Eby Konan, 2006. "Have Developing Countries Gained From the Marriage Between Trade Agreements and Intellectual Property Rights?," Working Papers 200605, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics.
    19. Goldsmith, Peter D. & Ramos, Gabriel & Steiger, Carlos, 2001. "Intellectual Property Protection And The International Marketing Of Agricultural Biotechnology: Firm And Host Country Impacts," 2001 Annual meeting, August 5-8, Chicago, IL 20672, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).

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