nep-ipr New Economics Papers
on Intellectual Property Rights
Issue of 2017‒06‒25
two papers chosen by
Giovanni Ramello
Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale “Amedeo Avogadro”

  1. Food Productivity Trends from Hybrid Corn: Statistical Analysis of Patents and Field-test data By Mariam Barry; Giorgio Triulzi; Christopher L. Magee
  2. The economics of ownership, access and trade in digital data By Georgios Alaveras; Estrella Gomez-Herrera; Bertin Martens

  1. By: Mariam Barry; Giorgio Triulzi; Christopher L. Magee
    Abstract: In this research we study productivity trends of hybrid corn - an important subdomain of food production. We estimate the yearly rate of yield improvement of hybrid corn (measured as bushel per acre) by using both information on yields contained in US patent documents for patented hybrid corn varieties and on field-test data of several hybrid corn varieties performed at US State level. We have used a generalization of Moore's law to fit productivity trends and obtain the performance improvement rate by analyzing time series of hybrid corn performance for a period covering the last thirty years. The linear regressions results obtained from different data sources indicate that the estimated improvement rates per year are between 1.2 and 2.4 percent. In particular, using yields reported in a sample of patents filed between 1985 and 2010, we estimated an improvement rate of 0.015 (R2 = 0.74, Pvalue = 1.37 x 10^-8). Moreover, we apply two predicting models developed by Benson and Magee (2015) and Triulzi and Magee (2016) that only use patent metadata to estimate the rate of improvement. We compare these predicted values to the rate estimated using US States field-test data. We find that, due to a turning point in patenting practices which begun in 2008, only the predicted rate (rate = 0.015) using patents filed before 2008 is consistent with the empirical rate. Finally, we also investigate at the micro level - on the basis of 70 patents (granted between 1986 and 2015) - whether the number of citations received by a patent is correlated with performance achieved by the patented variety. We find that the relative performance (yield ratio) of the patented seed is positively correlated with the total number of citations received by the patent (until December 2015) but not the citations received within 3 years after the granted year, with the patent application year used as control variable.
    Date: 2017–06
  2. By: Georgios Alaveras (European Commission – JRC); Estrella Gomez-Herrera (European Commission – JRC); Bertin Martens (European Commission – JRC)
    Abstract: This study measures the extent of cross-border geo-blocking and the impact on product availability and pricing for three non-audio-visual digital media products (music, e-books and games) in the EU Digital Single Market. We find that cross-border access to online media stores is generally blocked for the products and distributors surveyed in this study, though it can usually be circumvented. By contrast, cross-border availability is high, reaching around 98.6% for e-books on Amazon, 90% for downloadable music on iTunes, and 81.1% and 90.5% respectively for PS3 and PS4 PlayStation games. We could not directly verify cross-border availability of music in streaming services but a small sample test suggests that it could reach around 96% on Spotify. We find that the frequency of cross-country price differentiation is limited for games in the Sony PlayStation stores (less than 4%) but higher for downloadable music in the Apple iTunes stores (11.5%) and Amazon e-book stores (26%). Much of this price differentiation is driven by exchange rates and rounding off prices in country stores not denominated in Euro. In music, price discrimination is used mostly to extract higher prices from high-income consumers and for more popular songs with a lower price elasticity of demand. Subscription prices for main music streaming services are strongly correlated with country per capita income levels. Geographical market differentiation and geo-blocking in digital media is often attributed to the territoriality of the copyright management regime. In most cases rights holders are in a position to issue multi-territorial licenses. For commercial reasons however they may prefer to exercise their rights on a territorial basis. The welfare effect of geo-blocking on sellers can be safely assumed to be positive otherwise sellers would not apply this commercial strategy. The impact on consumer welfare is a-priori ambiguous. Geo-blocking reduces the extent of product variety available to consumers. Whether it increases or reduces consumer welfare is an empirical question. The data required to empirically estimate the impact of (lifting) geo-blocking restrictions on welfare are held by the private platform operators. A future assessment can only be made if the required data on product prices and sales are made available to independent researchers. Lifting geo-blocking restrictions will induce price arbitrage between country markets. That may put pressure on sellers to reduce price differentiation and push some prices up, others down. The price response of sellers is hard to predict and may have repercussions not only on downstream consumers but also on upstream parts of the supply chain. Price convergence is unlikely to be perfect and some differentiation may continue to exist because trade costs between country stores may not fall to zero (exchange rates, means of payment, linguistic trade barriers, etc.).
    Keywords: digital single market, copyright, digital media, audio-visual, music, e-books, online games
    JEL: D23 K11
    Date: 2017–06

This nep-ipr issue is ©2017 by Giovanni Ramello. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
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