Edited by John Linarelli
Chapter 7: Intellectual property rights and international economic governance
Intellectual property rights (IPRs) have become a key element in national strategies of technologically advanced countries, as they perceive that their economic performance depends more and more on their capacity to exploit the outputs of their creative and innovative activities. In an increasingly globalized market, a key element in those countries’ strategies is to ensure the international protection of IPRs. Less technologically advanced countries approach IPRs from a different perspective. They fear that IPRs will perpetuate the current technological superiority of developed countries and retard their own development. In fact, advanced countries have succeeded in substantially strengthening the international rules on IPRs, especially with the adoption of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement as one of the outcomes of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations. This chapter examines, first, the historical evolution and inter- nationalization of intellectual property regimes since the end of the 19th century. Second, it addresses the main analytical issues raised by the IPR regime. It elaborates on the nature of knowledge as a public good and the static and dynamic effects of introducing exclusionary rights, particularly for follow-on innovation and for countries with different levels of social and economic development. Third, the chapter discusses the room left to governments in the context of the emerging international IPR system for the adoption of industrial and technological policies suitable to their own conditions and capacities, particularly for the acquisition and absorption of foreign technologies.
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