Edited by Frederick M. Abbott, Carlos M. Correa and Peter Drahos
Chapter 6: The technology transfer debates and the role of emerging economies
Discussions on technology transfer have now been ongoing in various international forums for over fifty years. It was first tabled as an international issue in 1961, articulated within a request to the United Nations Secretary General by some developing countries to commission studies to ascertain the role played by international treaties in promoting the protection of intellectual property rights in developing countries. With time, the debate has grown in proportion, not only becoming an important issue in a variety of international processes and institutions, but also gaining more prominence as a result of several reasons. A first factor contributing to its growing relevance over time is the proliferation of demands on developing countries to improve their regimes of protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRs), which has been ongoing for some decades now. Developing countries have sought to respond to the ever-growing IPR stipulations by calling for a specific framework or obligations on the part of their trading partners on technology transfer that would promote their access to existing technologies. The most targeted effort to achieve such a framework was conducted in the context of the draft International Code of Conduct on Transfer of Technology (hereafter, the Code), which failed to materialize by the mid-1980s. However, despite the failure of those efforts, the fundamental issues raised fifty years ago still remain relevant and continue to influence and polarize international debates to a large extent in the current context.
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