The Political Economy of Intellectual Property Treaties
Author(s): Suzanne Scotchmer
Abstract: Intellectual property treaties create two types of obligations: for national treatment of foreign inventors and for certain harmonized protections. I investigate both the incentive to join such treaties and the incentive to harmonize. As compared to an equilibrium in which the countries’ policy makers make independent choices, harmonization will generally strengthen protections. This analysis recognizes that public sponsorship is sometimes an efficient alternative to intellectual property. However, there are no institutions to harmonize public spending, and there are no international mechanisms to repatriate the spillovers it generates. As a consequence, there may be too little public sponsorship and too much intellectual property. A country’s inclination to strengthen harmonized protections will depend both on its innovativeness (positively) and on the size of its domestic market (negatively).
Keywords: intellectual property, public sponsorship