Evidence and Experience from Developing Countries
Edited by Sunil Mani and Richard R. Nelson
This book is a report on the effects of the worldwide adoption of TRIPS on the economic development being experienced in four countries presently behind the technological and economic frontier and struggling to catch up. The countries are Brazil, India, Thailand, and China. The discussions leading to the establishment in 1995 of the requirement that countries adhere to the principles written down in TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) in order to be members of the WTO (World Trade Organization) often were heated. In particular, a number of economists disputed the argument, put forth by advocates of TRIPS, that less developed countries would develop more rapidly and widely if they had in place the kind of strong intellectual property rights law that TRIPS codified. The advocates of TRIPS proposed that there were two kinds of gains that would accrue to developing countries that signed on. First of all, the incentives for R & D and invention of their indigenous companies and potential inventors more generally would be strengthened. Second, companies and patent holders more generally, residing in the advanced industrial countries, would be more likely to invest in developing countries, or facilitate technology transfer to them, if those countries respected their intellectual property rights. But many economists who had studied technological advance, and the roles played by intellectual property in the process, questioned both of these proposals.