Knowledge Management and Intellectual Property
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Knowledge Management and Intellectual Property

Concepts, Actors and Practices from the Past to the Present

Edited by Stathis Arapostathis and Graham Dutfield

The book links the practices and regimes of the past with those of contemporary and emerging forms, covering the mid-19th century to the present. The contributors are noted scholars from various disciplines including history of science and technology, intellectual property law, and innovation studies. The chapters offer original perspectives on how proprietary regimes in knowledge production processes have developed as a socio-political phenomenon of modernity, as well as providing an analysis of the way individuals, institutions and techno-sciences interact within this culture.
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Chapter 14: Business TRIPS: American corporations and patents head to the global South, 1950–2010

Concepts, Actors and Practices from the Past to the Present

Eda Kranakis


The preceding quotations from George W. Bush and Vandana Shiva are indicative of the widely divergent views that exist concerning the role of intellectual property (IP) in the global economy and in North-South relations. To gain historical perspective on this dissonance, the present chapter surveys conditions that fuelled a new relationship between American corporations, patents, and the global South. It analyses long-term trends underlying the World Trade Organization’s 1994 Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (henceforward: ‘TRIPS’), which profoundly altered IP relations between the North and the South. TRIPS was strongly promoted by American corporations and the U.S. government. Negotiated during international trade talks in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the inception of TRIPS is examined here against the backdrop of the corporatization and internationalization of the American patent system. Changes ensuing from TRIPS are then analyzed to show how this agreement has brought the North and South closer together in ways not foreseen or desired by corporate America. My approach builds upon an emerging research agenda that links the field of science and technology studies (STS) more closely with globalization and development studies. Such a linking benefits both sides. Applying constructivist theories and methodologies, STS has shown that science and technology are not transcendent forms of rationality that stand above political, economic, or professional interests.

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