Does innovation require intellectual property rights?
By Douglas Clement
".. As for software, Boldrin refers to an MIT working paper by
economists Eric Maskin and James Bessen. Maskin and Bessen write that
"some of the most innovative industries today -- software, computers
and semiconductors -- have historically had weak patent protection and
have experienced rapid imitation of their products .."
".. Moreover, U.S. court decisions in the 1980s that strengthened
patent protection for software led to less innovation. "Far from
unleashing a flurry of new innovative activity," Maskin and Bessen
write, "these stronger property rights ushered in a period of
stagnant, if not declining, R&D among those industries and firms that
patented most." Industries that depend on sequential product
development -- the initial version is followed by an improved second
version, etc. -- are, they argue, likely to be stifled by stronger
intellectual property regimes .."