Valuing Intellectual Property: An Experiment

Buccafusco, Christopher J. and Sprigman, Christopher Jon ,Valuing Intellectual Property: An Experiment: An Experiment (March 11, 2010). Cornell Law Review, Vol. 91, 2010; Chicago-Kent Intellectual Property, Science & Technology Research Paper No. 10-029; Virginia Law and Economics Research Paper No. 2010-04. Available at SSRN:

Noted by Yi-Nung


實驗 A. Contest “Eyes Closed” Method

1. 找10個人當 Author 各寫一首詩, 假裝參加 haiku-writing competition 競賽, 第1名可得獎金 $50.

2. 找 10 個人當 bidder, 每一個 author 寫的詩, 指定給一個 bidder,

3(a). Bidder 去評估 (被指的那一首) 詩是否能得獎, 然後「願意付多少錢」(WTP)得到這個機會

4. Author 則選擇「願意接受多少錢」(WTA) 賣掉這個得獎的機會 (但仍然保留著作權)

5. 另外找人當 Owner, 每人隨機指定 1 首 Author 寫的詩, 並令其回答「願意接受多少錢」(WTA) 賣掉這個得獎的機會

實驗 B. The Contest: “Eyes Open”

與上述 5 點相同, 除了所有的人都看過所有的 1o 首詩 (perfect information?)

實驗 A 和 B 的結果: WTP 和 WTA 間有很大的統計顯著差異 (gap) (顯示支持 Endownment Effect);
而角色不同的 Author 和 Owner 之間的 WTA 並無顯著差異。


實驗 C. The Lottery: “Blind”

與上述 5 點相同, 但是不是以評審方式決定哪一首詩得獎, 而告訴全部人, 此次是用抽獎的方式決定誰得獎
(照理說, 這個 treatment 應該可以去除 Endowment Effects)

實驗 C 的結果: WTA/WTP 的 gap 更大! (即Endowment Effects 仍然存在)  但是 Authro、Owner、Buyer 三者的 WTA/WTP 都小於實驗 A/B。



  • 如何定義本文中所謂的「efficiency」問題…

Original Abstract:

In this article we report on the results of an experiment we performed to determine whether transactions in intellectual property (IP) are subject to the valuation anomalies commonly referred to as “endowment effects”. Traditional conceptions of the value of IP rely on assumptions about human rationality derived from classical economics. The law assumes that when people make decisions about buying, selling, and licensing IP they do so with fixed, context-independent preferences. Over the past several decades, this rational actor model of classical economics has come under attack by behavioral data showing that people do not always make strictly rational decisions. Perhaps the most important research in this field is that related to the “endowment effect” – the discovery that, contrary to economic predictions, people value the same object more when they own it than when they do not.

To date, the endowment effect has been observed for a variety of goods including mugs, lottery tickets, and hunting permits. Our experiment establishes a substantial valuation asymmetry between authors of poems and potential purchasers of them. As we explain in detail in the article, we constructed a market for the poems that was modeled on a market for licensing IP. The observed differences in valuation indicate that IP licensing markets may be substantially less efficient that previously believed. Our results suggest that (1) the preferences of IP creators, owners, and purchasers are unstable and dependent on the initial distribution of property rights in creative works, and (2) large gaps arise between purchasers’ willingness to pay and sellers’ willingness to accept even though the poems are non-rival property and the contemplated alienation of the property is therefore only partial.

Our findings suggest that private transactions in creative goods may face significant transaction costs arising from cognitive biases that drive the price that creators and owners of IP are likely to demand for transfers considerably higher than what buyers will, on average, be willing to pay. This does not mean, of course, that transactions in IP will not take place – we see such transactions happening out in the world every day. Our research suggests, however, that IP transactions may occur at a level that is significantly suboptimal, and that the baleful effect of cognitive and affective biases is likely to be more serious for transactions in works of relatively low commercial value, or for which no well-established custom or pattern helps to inform valuation. These results have considerable implications for the structuring of IP rights, IP formalities, IP licensing, and fair use.

==Cited by==

Christopher Buccafusco and Christopher Jon Sprigman (2011) THE LICENSING OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: The Creativity Effect, 78, U. Chi. L. Rev. 31.


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