HAM-FISTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (IP) rights on existing technologies hinder subsequent innovation, according to Heidi Williams at the Department of Economics at Harvard. She based her conclusion on newly-collected data on the sequencing of the human genome by the public Human Genome Project and the private firm Celera.
Her research paper estimates the impact of Celera's gene-level IP on subsequent scientic research and product development. The paper explains how genes initially sequenced by Celera were held with IP for up to two years, but moved into the public domain once re-sequenced by the public eort. Across a range of empirical specifications, I nd evidence that Celera's IP led to reductions in subsequent scientic research and product development on the order of 20 to 30 percent. Taken together, these results suggest that Celera's short-term IP had persistent negative eects on subsequent innovation relative to a counterfactual of Celera genes having always been in the public domain.
Heidi Williams -- "Intellectual property rights and innovation: Evidence from the human genome" in the Yale Law Review, December 30, 2011. Download IP and Innovation
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