The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Intellectual Property, History of

  • Zorina Khan
Reference work entry


The evolution of patents and copyrights followed different paths over time and across countries. Initially, intellectual property rules were endogenously determined according to social and economic priorities in each society. International patent laws subsequently were heavily influenced by early American policies that favoured the rights of original inventors. By contrast, US copyrights were among the weakest in the world; international copyright laws converged towards European doctrines that were based on non-economic rationales for inherent authors’ rights. The intellectual property system in the 21st century therefore constitutes an anomaly, since previously no country simultaneously adhered to strong patent rights and strong copyrights.


Barriers to entry Copyright Fair use Innovation Intellectual property Intellectual property rights Patents Technology Total factor productivity 

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Zorina Khan
    • 1
  1. 1.