On the priority of intellectual property rights, especially in biotechnology

This article argues that considerations about the role and predictability of intellectual innovation make the protection of intellectual property morally obligatory even when it greatly reduces short-term welfare. Since the provision of good new ideas is the only productive input not subject to decreasing marginal productivity, welfarist considerations require that no impediment to its maximal provision be erected and the potentially substantial welfare losses imposed by a patent system be mitigated by taxation of other sources of wealth and income. Key Words: patent system • welfarism • decreasing marginal productivity.
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DOI 10.1177/1470594X04039983
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