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This chapter reviews the economics literature on the development aspects of a substantially strengthened global regime of intellectual property rights (IPR). In this…
This chapter reviews the economics literature on the development aspects of a substantially strengthened global regime of intellectual property rights (IPR). In this regime developing countries must adopt tighter standards governing patents, copyrights, and related policies, in order to protect global innovation. Some analytical literature finds that these changes could improve prospects for technology flows to poor countries, helping to integrate them into the global knowledge economy. Other authors raise deep concerns about whether these policy shifts will restrict growth through raising the costs of imitation, innovation, and acquiring international technologies. Poor countries may face permanently higher costs, raising questions about both the efficiency and equity implications. The chapter considers first the role of a balanced IPR regime in an overall economic development policy. This balance could involve widely varying protection standards at differing levels of economic development, growth, and social preferences. This situation is especially true in the world economy, where poorer countries may prefer to free ride on available international technologies. Much of the theoretical literature takes this view, suggesting that harmonized global policies could reduce innovation and growth. More recent literature takes a broader view of the ability of IPR to build global technology markets and support international information exchanges. Ultimately these are empirical questions and the available literature differs considerably in analytical approaches and conclusions. Thus, the chapter analyzes contributions from theory, empirical analysis, and case studies regarding prospective improvements or impediments to economic development arising from IPR reforms. These issues are especially important in public health and nutrition. The chapter concludes with an overview of how the globalized nature of IPR protection could affect developing countries. The essential point is that policy governing patents and copyrights needs to be embedded effectively in an overall economic development strategy.
The existence of parallel imports (PI) raises a number of interesting policy and strategic questions, which are the subject of this survey article. For example, parallel…
The existence of parallel imports (PI) raises a number of interesting policy and strategic questions, which are the subject of this survey article. For example, parallel trade is essentially arbitrage within policy-integrated markets of IPR-protected goods, which may have different prices across countries. Thus, we analyze fully two types of price differences that give rise to such arbitrage. First is simple retail-level trade in horizontal markets because consumer prices may differ. Second is the deeper, and more strategic, issue of vertical pricing within the common distribution organization of an original manufacturer selling its goods through wholesale distributors in different markets. This vertical price control problem presents the IPR-holding firm a menu of strategic choices regarding how to compete with PI. Another strategic question is how the existence of PI might affect incentives of IPR holders to invest in research and development (R&D). The global research-based pharmaceutical firms, for example, strongly oppose any relaxation of restrictions against PI of drugs into the United States, arguing that the potential reduction in profits would diminish their ability to innovate. There is a close linkage here with price controls for medicines, which are a key component of national health policies but can give rise to arbitrage through PI. We also discuss the complex economic relationships between PI and other forms of competition policy, or attempts to limit the abuse of market power offered by patents and copyrights. Finally, we review the emerging literature on how policies governing PI may affect international trade agreements.
In the last two decades the subject of intellectual property rights (IPR) took on major significance as an element of global trade regulation and commercial policy. Implementation of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995 obliged member countries, over various transition periods, to adopt and enforce minimum standards of protection for patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and related policies. This mandate forced legislative and administrative changes in virtually all countries, but had particular impact in developing nations, which had generally weaker IPR standards prior to TRIPS. Since 1995 there have been additional multilateral negotiations, largely at the World Intellectual Property Organization, over stronger global standards for patents and copyrights for digital electronic goods. Most controversially, in its negotiations of bilateral free trade areas the United States aggressively demands highly rigorous standards, beyond those called for in TRIPS, for patent rules governing pharmaceutical products and new biotechnological goods in the agricultural and life sciences.
In this chapter I put forward a framework to help us understand the underlying sources of national policy failures regarding intellectual property rights (IPR) protection…
In this chapter I put forward a framework to help us understand the underlying sources of national policy failures regarding intellectual property rights (IPR) protection, the need for international coordination, and how the coordination should be done. I also analyze whether global harmonization of IPR standards is necessary or sufficient for achieving globally welfare-maximizing policies. Then I move on to analyze the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which is a mighty effort to coordinate IPR policies across member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO). I discuss what TRIPS was supposed to do and what it has actually achieved, with reference to my theoretical framework. I explain that it is desirable for IPR to be included in world trade talks and be negotiated along with other trade issues. I offer analyses on the extensions of the basic model by introducing political economy and trade barriers, as well as allowing countries to discriminate against foreign firms. Finally, I comment on further potential extensions such as introduction of foreign direct investment (FDI) or licensing, parallel imports, cumulative innovations, subject matter of protection and costs of implementation. The main thrust of the basic model is that, provided that there is free trade and non-discrimination of foreign firms, there exist positive cross-border externalities as a country strengthens its IPR protection, since it raises the profits of foreign firms and the welfare of foreign consumers without causing any deadweight loss on foreign soil. This implies that national governments tend to provide too little IPR protection compared with the global optimum. The model also implies that a country with higher innovative capability and larger domestic market would provide stronger IPR. Thus, it is natural for the South to protect IPR less than the North in the absence of international coordination. These basic results largely continue to hold under various extensions.
This chapter provides a selective survey of the theoretical and empirical literature to date on the relationship between intellectual property rights (IPRs) and measures…
This chapter provides a selective survey of the theoretical and empirical literature to date on the relationship between intellectual property rights (IPRs) and measures of innovation and international technology transfer. The chapter discusses the empirical implications of theoretical work, assesses the theoretical work based on the evidence available, and identifies some gaps in the existing literature.
The World Health Organization estimated that in 1999 roughly one-third of the world's population lacked access to essential medicines that would have saved or improved…
The World Health Organization estimated that in 1999 roughly one-third of the world's population lacked access to essential medicines that would have saved or improved their lives. Our analysis focuses on how pharmaceutical product patents restrict access to essential medicines in developing countries. It is well established that pharmaceutical product patents provide little incentive for pharmaceutical companies to develop new medicines designed to treat diseases prevalent in developing countries or to market in developing countries those patented medicines developed to treat diseases prevalent in developed countries. Economists have developed theoretical models showing that these incentives could be changed if (1) developing countries provided intellectual property protection for new pharmaceutical innovations and (2) an international regulatory framework were established to facilitate pharmaceutical companies setting lower prices in developing countries and higher prices in developed countries for patented medicines. We develop an index of property rights in pharmaceutical innovations covering 129 countries from 1960 to 2005. It shows that in 1960 only a handful of countries provided significant protection for pharmaceutical innovations, but by 2005 over 95 percent of countries in our sample provided significant statutory protections. However, an international framework to allow pharmaceutical companies to price discriminate has not been put in place. We conclude that international price discrimination mechanisms, compulsory patent licenses, and regional patent buyouts are not viable mechanisms for providing access to essential medicines to patients in developing countries. Global patent buyouts are more likely to achieve this goal, as they are not founded on an impractical separation of pharmaceutical markets in developing and developed countries and they provide critical incentives to develop new essential medicines.