An Introduction to the Law and Economics of Intellectual Property

Topics: Patent, Patent application, Copyright Pages: 36 (12464 words) Published: March 21, 2012
American Economic Association

An Introduction to the Law and Economics of Intellectual Property Author(s): Stanley M. Besen and Leo J. Raskind Reviewed work(s): Source: The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Winter, 1991), pp. 3-27 Published by: American Economic Association Stable URL: . Accessed: 24/11/2011 08:39 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

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Journal of Economic Perspectives- Volume Number1- Winter1991-Pages 3-27 5,

An Introduction to the Law and Economics of Intellectual Property Stanley M. Besen and Leo J. Raskind


rticle I, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution grants to the Congress the

power: "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by secur*ng for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writing and discoveries." Under this general grant, the Congress has enacted a number of statutes, including the Copyright Act [17 U.S.C.A. Sec. 101-810], the Patent Act [35 U.S.C.A. Sec. 1-376], and the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act of 1984 [17 U.S.C.A. Sec. 901-914]. In addition, the federal government has enacted the Trademark Act of 1946 ("Lanham Act") as amended [15 U.S.C.A. Sec. 1051-1127] and there is state law regulation of trade secrets and of misappropriation of other information. These six legal regimes constitute U.S. intellectual property law. In addition, the United States has sought protection for the works of its authors and inventors in other countries by joining a number of international intellectual property conventions, including the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the Universal Copyright Convention, and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. Intellectual property issues have also begun to occupy a prominent place in discussions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. For as long as laws have aimed at protecting intellectual property, disputes have raged over which works to protect, for how long, and to what extent. The mainstream of the economics profession has generally argued that economic * Stanley M. Besen is Senior Economist, The RAND Corporation,Washington,D.C. and Visiting Professor of Law and Economics, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington,D.C. Leo J. Raskind is Visiting Professor of Law, BrooklynLaw School, Brooklyn,New York,and Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mootyand Bennett Professorat University of MinnesotaLaw School, Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Journal of EconomicPerspectives

efficiency requires government support for innovative and creative activity (Arrow, 1962), but a dissenting tradition has argued that government action of any kind, including the awarding of copyrights and patents, is unnecessary to stimulate such activity (Plant, 1934a, 1934b; Breyer, 1970; Frase, 1966; Hughes, 1988). Although economists have written on topics of intellectual property for a long time, the impact of economics on public policy in this area has been slight, especially as compared to the influence of professional writings in areas such as antitrust and taxation. We believe that too few of the profession's resources have been devoted to these issues and that, of those resources that have been employed, too few have been devoted to empirical analyses. We hope that this introductory essay and the...
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