NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Political Economy of Intellectual Property Treaties

Suzanne Scotchmer

NBER Working Paper No. 9114
Issued in August 2002
NBER Program(s):   ITI   LE   PR

Intellectual property treaties have two main types of provisions: national treatment of foreign inventors, and harmonization of protections. I address the positive question of when countries would want to treat foreign inventors the same as domestic inventors, and how their incentive to do so depends on reciprocity. I also investigate an equilibrium in which regional policy makers choose IP policies that serve regional interests, conditional on each other's policies. I compare these policies with a notion of what is optimal, and argue that harmonization will involve stronger IP protection than independent choices. Harmonization can either enhance or reduce global welfare. Levels of public and private R&D spending will be lower than if each country took account of the uncompensated externalities that its R&D spending confers on other countries. The more extensive protection engendered by attempts at harmonization are a partial remedy.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9114

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