Trade in information goods is particularly sensitive to the strength of intellectual property rights (IPR) and encounters an apparently different pattern of imitation threat compared with manufacturing trade, but the information goods trade-IPR nexus is less systematically investigated. This article analyzes whether and how U.S. information goods exports are sensitive to national differences in IPR protection and the degree of threat-of-imitation from the dynamic perspective. Employing the technique of instrumental variables for a dynamic panel model to consider the hysteretic effect and controlling the endogeneity problem, the empirical results show that the strength of the importing country's IPR protection overall exhibits a trade-enhancing effect, supporting the standpoint that stronger IPR protection will induce more trade. Moreover, we adopt the piracy rate as a proxy for threat-of-imitation to examine its role on the information goods trade-IPR nexus. Empirical findings validate the prevalence of the market expansion effect wherever the degree of imitation threat of importing countries is high or low, because the technology level and production cost of reproduction are very low. It implies that the existing theory on threat-of-imitation may not apply to the information goods trade.
- Information goods trade