The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper examines a country's incentives for intellectual property rights (IPR) protection in a global trading environment. There is a time inconsistency problem intrinsic to IPR protection: ex ante strong protection is warranted to promote innovation, but once discovery takes place there is an incentive to lower protection. The sub optimal but time consistent policy involves an insufficient level of protection and, therefore, of innovation. In more technologically advanced economies reputational considerations may be sufficient to maintain strong protection. Otherwise a commitment mechanism, such as participation in the World Trade Organization, or, more controversially, some form of bilateral punishment, may be used.