Intellectual Property in the WTO Volume I
Research Handbooks on the WTO series
Edited by Carlos M. Correa
Chapter 2: Developing Countries in the Global IP System Before TRIPS: The Political Context for the TRIPS Negotiations
Carolyn Deere-Birkbeck The history of the global intellectual property (IP) system set the political backdrop for developing country responses to the TRIPS (Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) negotiations and the Agreement they produced. This chapter reviews the origins of the political stand-off between developed and developing countries during the TRIPS negotiations. It traces developing country participation in the international IP system through three phases: the colonial era, the post-colonial era, and then the lead-up to TRIPS negotiations during the Uruguay Round. The chapter concludes with a synopsis of how these historical tensions influenced the politics of the TRIPS negotiations, the Agreement that emerged, and the implementation process (see Chapter 1 by Charles Clift for a fuller analysis of the TRIPS negotiation process). 1. The colonial era: variation and external control In most developing countries, Western conceptions of privately held rights over intellectual assets have no local cultural or legal roots.1 For many countries, pre-colonial commercial legal arrangements with European powers marked their first encounter with Western practices related to IP.2 Subsequently, formal IP laws in developing countries emerged largely from colonial administration.3 The trajectory of IP laws was, however, not uniform across the developing world. Most notably, the experience of a number of countries in the Americas was distinct from that of many countries in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the establishment of 1 For background on indigenous, traditional, and community-based approaches to law and the management of intellectual assets, see Dutfield...
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