Platform Liability and Innovation

Leonardo Madio (University of Padova)
Yassine Lefouili (Toulouse School of Economics)
Doh-Shin Jeon (Toulouse School of Economics)


We study an e-commerce platform’s incentives to delist IP-infringing products and the effects of introducing a liability regime that induces the platform to increase its screening intensity. We identify conditions under which platform liability is socially desirable (respectively, undesirable) by analyzing its intended and unintended effects on the innovation incentives of brand owners. We show that making the platform liable for the presence of IP-infringing products can lead to a reduction (instead of an increase) in brand owners’ innovation if the platform responds to more screening by raising its commission rate. We then consider various extensions that allow us to identify additional forces that strengthen (respectively, weaken) the social desirability of liability. We conclude by presenting some implications for policymakers.

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