Harnessing the Creative Spirit in a Diverse World
Edited by Uma Suthersanen, Graham Dutfield and Kit Boey Chow
Uma Suthersanen and Graham Dutfield 11.1 Justifying IPRs Patents are tools for economic advancement that should contribute to the enrichment of society through (i) the widest possible availability of new and useful goods, services and technical information that derive from inventive activity, and (ii) the highest possible level of economic activity based on the production, circulation and further development of such goods, services and information. In pursuit of these aims, inventors are able to protect their inventions through a system of property rights – the patent system. One of the reasons that patents are so controversial is that the IP incentive, as far as it actually works, functions by restricting use by others of the protected invention for a certain period. Yet follow-on innovation by others is more likely to happen if use is not restricted. Thus a balance between private control over the use of technical information and its diffusion needs to be struck. Where the line should be drawn is very difficult to determine but its ideal location will vary widely from one country to another, and, one may argue from one business sector to another. In countries where little inventive activity takes place, free access to technical information may well do more to foster technological capacity building than providing strong private rights over such information. We face two conflicting schools of thought. An economic classicist would argue that the main role of patent law is to prevent rewards from being dissipated by competing imitations and to preserve the...
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