DP3273 The Case Against Intellectual Property

Author(s): Michele Boldrin, David Levine
Publication Date: March 2002
Keyword(s): intellectual Property, monopoly power, patents and copyrights
JEL(s): L10, L40, O31
Programme Areas: International Macroeconomics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=3273

According to a common argument, the presence of strong intellectual property rights spurs innovation, which then leads to fiercer competition, higher economic growth and increasing benefits for the average consumers. We argue that, in the case of intellectual property rights, this has lead to misconceptions and abuses. Current legislation on intellectual property confuses the protection of property rights on objects in which ideas are embodied with the attribution of monopoly power on the idea itself and, furthermore, with restrictions on the usage of such goods on the part of the buyers. This implies that both patent and copyright laws should be dramatically altered. To back up our claim we provide theoretical arguments, even for the most extreme case in which goods are produced at a positive fixed cost and zero marginal cost.