Chapter 16: The Role of Intellectual Property Rights in Biotechnology Innovation: National and International Comparisons
Richard Y. Boadi INTRODUCTION Intellectual property rights (IPRs)1 refer to a category of rights which confer protection for creations of the human intellect.2 They are a form of legal entitlement which sometimes attaches to the expressed form of an idea, or to some other intangible subject matter. In general terms this legal entitlement sometimes enables its holder to exercise exclusive control over the use of the IPR. IPRs are designed primarily to provide incentives for innovative behavior; induce investment to develop and commercialize technologies; provide incentive for the disclosure of information; and facilitate the transfer of technology. Yet, IPRs could serve as a barrier to innovation, particularly in developing countries, if technologies needed as research inputs are protected by such IPRs and are not accessible to the research institutions that develop products specifically for these countries where farmers constitute approximately 70 per cent of the general population and 90 per cent of the agri-food workforce. For smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, yields of major staple crops (maize, sorghum, millet, cassava, cowpea, bananas/plantains) have remained stagnant or even declined in the past 40 years. Numerous biotic and abiotic stresses have contributed to this dire scenario. Local research efforts to overcome these stresses are hampered by declining support for agricultural research, limited access to elite genetic material and other technologies protected by IPRs, and the absence of commercial interest in these crops by private owners of agricultural technologies. Despite the availability of agricultural technologies (such as improved seeds and farm inputs)...
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