Contestation Over the Ownership, Use, and Control of Knowledge and Information
Edited by Sebastian Haunss and Kenneth C. Shadlen
Chapter 9: Who Benefits? An Empirical Analysis of Australian and US Patent Ownership
Hazel V.J. Moir INTRODUCTION 1. The story of the role a small handful of major companies played in the inclusion of regulatory patent laws into free trade negotiations is well told elsewhere (Drahos 1995, 2002; Ryan 1998; Sell 2003). During the Uruguay Round negotiations there was little public discussion of the proposed agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS), and there was little organised opposition until towards the end of the process, when the implications for public health budgets became more apparent. Commenting on why lower-income countries agreed to a measure which was clearly welfare-reducing,1 Scherer notes: Third-world nations . . . accepted the bargain in the hope of better export prospects in agriculture and textiles and to ward off punitive measures under U.S. Trade Act Section 301. Because the textile and especially agricultural changes have at best been slow in coming, it would not be improper to suggest that the third-world nations were led into a Faustian bargain. (Scherer 2006: 42) The story of the TRIPS negotiations is a prime example of Olsen’s explication of the impact of interest groups on public policy – a small wellorganised group which will gain significant benefits from an initiative may well prevail in obtaining artificial rents where those who lose are dispersed and individually suffer small losses (Olson 1971). Shadlen shows in Chapter 2 of this book how in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico the coalitions of interest groups have shifted, following the introduction of TRIPS. The outcome of these changes has been to strengthen...
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