For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The economic impact of IP: whatever happened to the rest of the world?

This is not a rant. It's a genuine question born of a certain degree of bewilderment. And it's certainly not intended as having an anti-American thrust to it.

Cunningly disguised as The Invisible Man,
a European IP economist goes about his daily
business without fear of being 'outed'
Over the years this Kat has read and/or received copious quantities of literature on the economic analysis of intellectual property rights. He has found some of it (particularly the algebraic bits) a bit mystifying, some of it predictably obvious and some of it manifestly based on false models that do not fit the IP world which he inhabits -- but on the whole he has found this body of writing stimulating and valuable. The other thing he has found is that it appears to be almost entirely of US origin, dealing with US data, US markets and US legal constructs. This body of literature is also highly self-referential, in that the same admittedly stellar economists of IP monopolies and market advantage seem to inhabit each other's footnotes, while collections of "greatest hits" -- seminal articles on aspects of the economics of IP which have broken new analytical ground or influenced policy-making -- are populated by more of the same. Recently this Kat has received several such collections for review, which are marketed as being pretty well the most definitive and authoritative writing on the subject, and none of which has any non-US content at all.

In contrast, this Kat does not appear to have received even one such volume that brings together anything that purports to be a collection of authoritative non-US writing on the subject. When he thinks of IP and economics, names like Kenneth Arrow, Harold Demsetz, Richard Posner, Jacob Schmookler, Fritz Machlup (originally an Austrian but his IP work is all-American), Wendy Gordon, Robert P. Merges spring to mind effortlessly -- but when asked to come up with a similar list of European (or indeed any other) IP economists he struggles. He knows that Mark Schankerman raises the banner of economics of IP at the London School of Economics -- but isn't he a Harvard man? And who are the leading French, German, Italian, Spanish and other scholars in the field? The Kat is sure that there must be plenty of them but he is embarrassed to confess that he doesn't know (though Merpel bets that fellow Kat Neil can reel off a few, together with their place of birth, educational records and sporting preferences).  As for Latin America, Asia, Africa, Australasia ....

Starting initially with Europe, since it's his home patch, what this Kat would like to do is as follows:

  • Identify genuine scholars and thought leaders in the field of the economics of IP;
  • Obtain the assistance of an economist (even an American one!) in working out (i) whether this scholarship has any characteristics that differ from those of their US brethen and (ii) whether, even if they don't, they are still working with European data, legal models and other indicia that might make their writings and their thoughts more accessible to the European market;
  • Try to put together a list of articles, irrespective of language if necessary, that reflects the output of these scholars and then see if any publisher can be persuaded to take the risk of publishing them;
  • In the event that no publisher comes forward, take steps to republish their output online and see if it can kick-start a discussion.

If this works, it would be good to do the same for other geo-economic trade zones too.

Suggestions and responses, please, to the IPKat here, with the subject line "Euro IP economics" -- but be prepared for a time-lag of several days before your emails are acknowledged.

1 comment:

goldenrail said...

I have seen a report on the economic effects of copyright infringement in Nigeria. However, as the research and publication of the results was sponsored by the Ford Foundation, this may still fall under your US blanket.

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