Copying trade secrets and catching up

From Ed Crooks in The Financial Times (register to get past paywall)

US charges Sinovel with trade secret theft

The US government has charged Sinovel, one of the largest Chinese wind turbine manufacturers, with stealing trade secrets from one of its US suppliers, alleging the offence amounted to “attempted corporate homicide”.

If we skip over the fact that this brings the personification of the corporation to a new and, well, corporeal level (I’ll leave that matter to Yves Smith), here’s your Rorschach: is Sinovel the hero and AMSC the villain, or vice versa? Continue reading

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Piracy as opportunity

Many westerners have scolded me when I’ve told stories of the obscene amounts of music, movies and software I have pirated. What they fail to understand is that I used this mode of distribution for the lack of any realistic access to an alternative.

– Bozhan Chipev, “Piracy was my shot at equality

Economic liberalization depends on strong states

Julia Cagé and Lucie Gadenne find that

tariff cuts lead to lower tax revenues as a share of GDP. The drop is highest in poor countries that don’t have the capacity to compensate for lost tariff revenues with domestic taxes.

This is an important point in itself, and illustrates a more general principle that many of the benefits of economic liberalization depend on strong states. Continue reading

Weak intellectual property and economic catch up – the German case

In Der Spiegel, Frank Thadeusz reviews Eckhard Höffner’s work. The story: 19th century Germany had far better dissemination of new scientific & technical ideas, in part because weak copyright enforcement forced publishers into aggressive pricing & paperback editions. In England publishers thrived but most people couldn’t afford their products. This difference helped Germany catch up.

What Höffner describes in 19th century Germany is a sort of open innovation system – not one without intellectual property protection, but one with weak protection. Continue reading