Omnia Juncta in Uno: Foreign Powers and Trademark Protection in Shanghai’s Concession Era

66 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2021

See all articles by Laura Alfaro

Laura Alfaro

Harvard University

Cathy Ge Bao

University of International Business and Economics (UIBE)

Maggie Xiaoyang Chen

George Washington University; George Washington University

Junjie Hong

University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) - School of International Trade and Economics

Claudia Steinwender

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Date Written: November 22, 2021

Abstract

We investigate how firms adapt to trademark protection, an under-examined form of IP protection, by exploring a historical precedent: China’s trademark law of 1923—an unanticipated, disapproved response to end conflicts between foreign powers. Exploiting a unique, newly digitized firm-employee-level dataset from Shanghai in 1870-1941, we show that the trademark law impacted firm dynamics on all sides of trademark conflicts. The law spurred growth and brand investment for Western firms with greater dependence on trademark protection. In contrast, Japanese businesses, who had frequently been accused of counterfeiting, experienced contractions while attempting to build their own brands after the law. Further, the trademark law led to new linkages with domestic agents both within and outside the boundary of Western firms and the growth of Chinese intermediaries. At the aggregate level, trademark-intensive industries witnessed a net growth in employment and product categories. A comparison with previous attempts by foreign powers to strengthen trademark protection–such as extraterritorial rights, bilateral treaties, and an unenforced trademark code–shows the alternative institutions were ultimately unsuccessful.

Keywords: trademark, firm dynamics, intermediaries, intellectual property institutions

JEL Classification: F2, D2, O1, O3, N4

Suggested Citation

Alfaro, Laura and Bao, Cathy Ge and Chen, Maggie Xiaoyang and Chen, Maggie Xiaoyang and Hong, Junjie and Steinwender, Claudia, Omnia Juncta in Uno: Foreign Powers and Trademark Protection in Shanghai’s Concession Era (November 22, 2021). Harvard Business School BGIE Unit Working Paper No. 22-030, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3968998 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3968998

Laura Alfaro (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Cathy Ge Bao

University of International Business and Economics (UIBE)

10, Huixin Dongjie
Changyang District
Beijing, Beijing 100029
China

Maggie Xiaoyang Chen

George Washington University ( email )

Department of Economics, George Washington Univ.
1922 F Street, Suite 208, NW
Washington, DC 20052
United States
(202) 994-0192 (Phone)
(202) 994-6147 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://home.gwu.edu/~xchen

George Washington University ( email )

Department of Economics, George Washington Univ.
1922 F Street, Suite 208, NW
Washington, DC 20052
United States
(202) 994-0192 (Phone)
(202) 994-6147 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://home.gwu.edu/~xchen

Junjie Hong

University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) - School of International Trade and Economics ( email )

10 East Huixin Street
Chaouang District
Beijing, 100029
China

Claudia Steinwender

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

100 Main Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/clsteinwender/

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