Plant Breeders’ Rights, Patents, and Incentives to Innovate

By: Hervouet, Adrien; Langinier, Corinne


Hervouet, Adrien; Langinier, Corinne, Plant Breeders’ Rights, Patents, and Incentives to Innovate, Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Volume 43, Issue 1, January 2018, Pages 118-150

Both patents and Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBRs) can protect plant innovations. Unlike patents, PBRs allow farmers to save part of their harvest to replant. We analyze the impact of this exemption on prices and innovation in a monopoly setting. In a PBR regime, a monopolist might let farmers self-produce, and he over- or under-invests compared to socially optimal investments. Under a PBR and patent regime, large (small) innovations are more likely to be patented (protected with PBRs), but self-production is not completely prevented, private investments are often socially optimal, and incentives to innovate are boosted. However, overall effects on welfare are ambiguous.