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Intellectual Property: When Is It the Best Incentive System?

  • Nancy Gallini

    (University of Toronto)

  • Suzanne Scotchmer

    (University of California, Berkeley)

Our objective in this paper is to review what economists have said about incentive schemes to promote R&D, including intellectual property. While we focus on environments in which other forms of protection are not available, we note that other protections can obviate the need for any formal reward system. In Section II, we compare intellectual property to alternative incentive schemes. In Section III we review optimal design issues for intellectual property, especially the question of patent breadth, and in Section IV we turn to the special problems that arise when innovation is cumulative. In Section V, we summarize the arguments for and against intellectual property. We comment on whether the design recommendations of economists can actually be implemented, and argue that IP regimes should be designed so that the subject matter of each one has relatively homogeneous needs for protection.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Law and Economics with number 0201001.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 04 Jan 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwple:0201001
Note: 26 pages, Acrobat .pdf
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  17. Shavell, Steven & van Ypersele, Tanguy, 2001. "Rewards versus Intellectual Property Rights," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 525-47, October.
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  19. d'Aspremont, Claude & Bhattacharya, Sudipto & Gerard-Varet, Louis-Andre, 1998. "Knowledge as a public good: efficient sharing and incentives for development effort," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 389-404, November.
  20. O'DONOGHUE, Ted & SCOTCHMER, Suzanne & THISSE, Jacques-François, . "Patent breadth, patent life, and the pace of technological progress," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1314, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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