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IER Lawrence Klein Lecture: The Case Against Intellectual Monopoly

Staff Report 339 | Published June 1, 2004

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Authors

Michele Boldrin

David K. Levine Visiting Scholar

IER Lawrence Klein Lecture: The Case Against Intellectual Monopoly

Abstract

In the modern theory of growth, monopoly plays a crucial role both as a cause and an effect of innovation. Innovative firms, it is argued, would have insufficient incentive to innovate should the prospect of monopoly power not be present. This theme of monopoly runs throughout the theory of growth, international trade, and industrial organization. We argue that monopoly is neither needed for, nor a necessary consequence of, innovation. In particular, intellectual property is not necessary for, and may hurt more than help, innovation and growth. We argue that, as a practical matter, it is more likely to hurt.