Skip to content

Senior Capstone 2021

Innovation Levels Under and Open-Source Future

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to look at how innovation levels are impacted in our society under an environment with increasing amounts of open-source software. Traditional economic thought teaches that intellectual property protections increases innovation because it provides creators the security to profit from their inventions without fear of theft. However, open-source software allows for more opportunities for innovation while foregoing IP protections. After literature review, we have found the most significant determinants of innovation levels in an open-source environment. Innovation level can be written as a function of time spent on open-source projects, licensing restriction, repository activity, benefit of collaboration, and ratio of time spent on open to close source projects. At this point, we are only able to write a general function, lacking a more intricate mathematical structure. Some drawbacks contributing to such obstacles are lack of relevant data metrics, heavy focus on consumer-side behavior, and limitation to the technology sector. There is much potential to explore the concept of foregoing IP protections in other industries such as pharmaceutical and automobile as well.

Patton Lu is a fifth-year economics undergraduate student at Northeastern University, double majoring in economics and psychology. His interests include learning about the legal processes that facilitate innovation and new inventions in our society, especially in the technology and information sectors. Beginning in the fall 2021 semester, Patton will be a J.D. Candidate at Fordham University School of Law class of 2024.