Trademark Protection or Protectionism?
20 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2007
This paper explores the extent to which discrimination against foreign applicants in the trademark registration process can be used as a "behind-the-border" barrier to imports. Prima-facie evidence shows that in some developing countries the ratio of trademark registrations to applications is much higher for national than for foreign applicants, which is consistent with the notion of discrimination against foreign firms. A simple model is developed that suggests that incentives to discriminate are stronger when foreign firms manufacture products that are close in quality to the goods produced by domestic firms. This hypothesis is then tested and empirically confirmed in three of the four countries in our sample, suggesting that discretion and discrimination in the trademark registration process can sometimes be used as a protectionist tool.
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