The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
My coauthor, political scientist Mattias Ottervik, and I just published a symposium piece in the Akron Law Review entitled "Blunting the Later-Mover Advantage: Intellectual Property and Knowledge Transfer". Here is the abstract:
The United States followed a path of initially giving little protection to intellectual property (IP) so that the country could benefit from the IP of nations we term earlier-movers on the world stage of economic development. This symposium piece argues that Japan and China have been following a similar trajectory in their intellectual property laws while progressing on their own economic climb. Widespread international outsourcing of manufacturing has made intellectual property a key asset for private companies, which has strengthened the tendencies of earlier-movers to formulate and enforce strict intellectual property laws. This suggests that countries like China respond not only to pressure from earlier-movers like the United States to increase intellectual property protection, but are also driven by concerns against their own later-movers. Perhaps curiously, if the hierarchy of movers shifts and the relative interest in intellectual property enforcement does as well, China will someday seek to protect its goods against infringement by the likes of the United States and Japan.