Market power in the global economy: the exhaustion and protection of intellectual property

Working Paper No. 12-W04R

Kamal Saggi


We develop a North-South model in which a firm that enjoys monopoly status in the North (by virtue of a patent or a trademark) has the incentive to price discriminate internationally because Northern consumers value its product more than Southern ones. While North's policy regarding the territorial exhaustion of intellectual property rights (IPR) determines whether the firm can exercise market power across regions, Southern policy regarding the protection of IPR determines the firm's monopoly power within the South. In equilibrium, each region's policy takes into account the firm's pricing strategy, its incentive to export, and the other region's policy stance. Major results are: (i) the North is more likely to choose international exhaustion if the South protects IPR whereas the South is more willing to offer such protection if the North implements national exhaustion; (ii) the firm values IPR protection less than the freedom to price discriminate internationally if and only if its quality advantage over Southern imitators exceeds a certain threshold; and (iii) requiring the South to protect IPR increases global welfare iff such protection is necessary for inducing the firm to export to the South.

Keywords and Phrases: Exhaustion of IPRs, Imitation, Market power, TRIPS, Welfare.

JEL Classification Numbers: F13, F10, F15

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