Proposals for Reform of TRIPS
Edited by Annette Kur
Chapter 1: The Pendulum Keeps Swinging – Present Discussions on and Around the TRIPS Agreement
Marianne Levin INTRODUCTION 1. Intellectual property (IP) rights in some form are almost universally recognized as an essential policy tool for market economies. During the last two decades the system has been expanding with respect to objects of protection, scope of protection, period of protection, as well as in importance. Part of this obvious expansion has to do with modern technological developments. The greater appreciation seems to be a reflection of the increasing awareness of the value of intellectual assets in successful business enterprises, which in turn is reflected in politicians’ attitudes towards the importance of the IP system for the national and international economy. Lately, however, the global legitimacy of the system has been challenged and has become the object of intense discussions. There are good reasons to ask whether these challenges are really directly IP-related or rather a battle over political and economic powers in the world, where IP has become a symbol for developed countries’ hegemonial business interests. Nevertheless, depending on from which starting point the system is approached, the answer to what IP is, or should be, is inconclusive: a financial asset; a tool of national or international competitiveness; a moral issue; or a means to rapidly share technological solutions to complex problems?1 As can be seen from the title of this chapter, the aim here is merely to provide a brief introductory, overarching and fairly superficial summary of the many and intense discussions on a great number of issues that have taken place, to...
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