A 2006 paper by Kal Raustiala (UCLA) and Chris Sprigman (UVA) titled the Piracy Paradox discusses intellectual property and the fashion industry. The authors conclude that the legal ability of manufacturers to create knock-off versions of fashion designs actually promotes innovation and investment in that industry. Similar phenomena have been explained in other industries. In music, for instance, some studies have shown that peer-to-peer file sharing of copyrighted work actually increases sales because of the increased popularity of the artist. Since the dawn of radio, record companies have paid stations to broadcast their music – even though the broadcast would be considered infringement.
My question is whether there are patent specific examples of this process going on? Are there times when ‘piracy’ of a technology actually encourages further R&D?