Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation in the Human Genome Project

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* Paper: Intellectual property rights and innovation: Evidence from the human genome. By Heidi Williams†. December 30, 2009

URL = http://deugarte.com/gomi/Williams_jmp.pdf

Abstract

"This paper provides empirical evidence on how intellectual property (IP) on a given technology affects subsequent innovation. To shed light on this question, I analyze the sequencing of the human genome by the public Human Genome Project and the private firm Celera, and estimate the impact of Celera’s gene-level IP on subsequent scientific research and product development outcomes. Celera’s IP ap- plied to genes sequenced first by Celera, and was removed when the public effort re-sequenced those genes. I test whether genes that ever had Celera’s IP differ in subsequent innovation, as of 2009, from genes sequenced by the public effort over the same time period, a comparison group that appears balanced on ex ante gene- level observables. A complementary panel analysis traces the effects of removal of Celera’s IP on within-gene flow measures of subsequent innovation. Both analyses suggest - Celera’s IP led to reductions in subsequent scientific research and product development outcomes on the order of 30 percent. Celera’s short-term IP thus appears to have had persistent negative effects on subsequent innovation relative to a counterfactual of Celera genes having always been in the public domain."