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Thursday, September 30, 2010

SBE Council’s IP and the Economists #1: IP and History

The challenges of protecting intellectual property perhaps have never been more difficult than they are right now in the early twenty-first century. However, the negatives of failing to protect IP, and the benefits of strong IP rights are – or at least, should be – well known in economics and history.

Consider the following from Douglass North, the 1993 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, from his book titled Structure and Change in Economic History:

“And, in fact, throughout man’s past he has continually developed new techniques but the pace was slow and intermittent. The primary reason has been that incentives for developing new techniques have occurred only sporadically. Typically, innovations could be copied at no cost by others and without any reward to the inventor. The failure to develop systematic property rights in innovations until fairly modern times was a major source of the slow pace of technological change.”

Raymond J. Keating
Chief Economist
SBE Council

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