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Intellectual Property and the Efficient Allocation of Social Surplus from Creation

23 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2008  

Michele Boldrin

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Economics; Universidad Carlos III de Madrid - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

David K. Levine

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Economics; European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS)

Abstract

In the modern theory of innovation, monopoly plays a crucial role both as a cause and an effect of creative economic activity. Innovative firms, it is argued, would have insufficient incentive to innovate should the prospect of monopoly power not be present. This theme of monopoly runs throughout the theory of growth, international trade, and industrial organization. We argue that monopoly is neither needed for, nor a necessary consequence of innovation. In particular, intellectual property is not necessary for, and may hurt more than help, innovation and growth. We show that, in most circumstances, competitive rents allow creative individuals to appropriate a large enough share of the social surplus generated by their innovations to compensate for their opportunity cost. We also show that, as the number of pre-existing and IP protected ideas needed for an innovation increases, the equilibrium outcome under the IP regime is one of decreasing probability of innovation, while this is not the case without IP. Finally, we provide various examples of how competitive markets for innovative products would work in the absence of IP and critically discuss a number of common fallacies in the previous literature.

Keywords: Intellectual Property, Allocation, Surplus

Suggested Citation

Boldrin, Michele and Levine, David K., Intellectual Property and the Efficient Allocation of Social Surplus from Creation. Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 45-67, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1144885

Michele Boldrin (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Economics ( email )

271 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States
612-624-4551 (Phone)
612-624-0209 (Fax)

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid - Department of Economics

Calle Madrid 126
Getafe, 28903
Spain

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

David K. Levine

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Economics ( email )

One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.dklevine.com

European University Institute - Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (RSCAS) ( email )

Villa La Fonte, via delle Fontanelle 18
50016 San Domenico di Fiesole
Florence, Florence 50014
Italy

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