Politics of Intellectual Property
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Politics of Intellectual Property

Contestation Over the Ownership, Use, and Control of Knowledge and Information

Edited by Sebastian Haunss and Kenneth C. Shadlen

This book offers empirical analyses of conflicts over the ownership, control, and use of knowledge and information in developed and developing countries.
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Chapter 2: The Post-TRIPS Politics of Patents in Latin America

Kenneth C. Shadlen


Kenneth C. Shadlen National policies toward intellectual property (IP) underwent substantial transformation in the 1990s, as countries adopted new systems to conform to the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). TRIPS-style IP regimes make patents available for more types of knowledge, grant long periods of patent protection, and endow patent-owners with strong rights of exclusion. In this chapter I examine two different types of political mobilization and pressures for change that newly-introduced, TRIPS-style regimes became subject to by the early 21st century. Most governments have faced pressures to modify aspects of their IP systems regarding pharmaceutical patents.1 Though the outcomes of this mobilization are not uniform across countries, the common thread has been for governments to address the consequences of stronger patent protection on the price of medicines and access to drugs. At the same time, most governments have also faced pressures to modify aspects of their patent systems more broadly related to science, technology, and indigenous innovation. Here too we witness cross-national variation in outcomes, but all around a common theme of trying to strengthen local actors’ capacities to take advantage of the incentives of patent protection and creating new regulatory frameworks to link publicly-funded scientific research with private industry. These two trajectories of mobilization and change in the areas of drugs– health and science–technology–innovation (STI) are somewhat contradictory: the first trajectory is about reforming the now-regnant systems of IP management, as debates in the case of drugs–health...

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