Intellectual Property Rights and the Ascent of Proprietary Innovation in Agriculture

Matthew S. Clancy, GianCarlo Moschini
January 2017  [17-WP 572]

Download Full Text

Suggested citation:

Clancy, M. and G. Moschini. 2017. "Intellectual Property Rights and the Ascent of Proprietary Innovation in Agriculture." Working paper 17-WP 572. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.


Biological innovations in agriculture did not enjoy protection by formal intellectual property rights (IPRs) for a long time, but the recent trend has been one of considerable broadening and strengthening of these rights. We document the nature of these IPRs and their evolution, and provide an assessment of their impacts on innovation. We integrate elements of the institutional history of plant IPRs with a discussion of the relevant economic theory and a review of applicable empirical evidence. Throughout, we highlight how the experience of biological innovation mirrors, or differs from, the broader literature on IPRs and innovation. We conclude with some considerations on the relation between IPRs and market structure and the pricing of proprietary inputs in agriculture