Do Treaties Encourage Technology Transfer? Evidence from the Paris Convention
38 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2011
Date Written: July 22, 2011
An important goal of international treaties such as the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement is to encourage technology transfer and knowledge flows across countries. This analysis uses the U.S. accession to the Paris Convention in 1887 - four years after the treaty was originally established - to examine the effects of treaty rights on international knowledge flows, measured as changes in patenting by foreign nationals. The U.S. accession strengthened U.S. patent rights for nationals from countries that had signed the treaty before the United States, but had no effect on nationals from other countries. An analysis of 86,000 U.S. patents between 1865 and 1914 indicates that nationals from the original member countries increased their patenting activity in the United States by more than 40 percent after U.S. accession compared with nationals from other countries. Importantly, the effects of the treaty were strongest for nationals from countries with high pre-treaty levels of development and education, that were most able to respond to stronger property rights.
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