Intellectual property rights and development

Intellectual property rights and development

Preliminary draft summarising policy impacts of IPRs on development

Preliminary draft that aims to encourage policy discussion on the impact of intellectual property rights on development with particular reference to the TRIPS agreement. The draft paper draws no conclusions but provides a comprehensive summary of issues with particular reference to developing countries. Corrections and comments on the paper are sought before final conclusions are drawn.

The paper begins with an analysis of the development of IPRs and their importance in the future. The author highlights the role of IPRs in balancing conflicting interests to achieve public policy goals - and the difficulties in finding this balance. The paper then presents the key features of the framework of the global IP regulatory system and the relevant international institutions (WTO and WIPO). Particular attention is paid to the TRIPS agreement with an account of the policy process that brought it about, its purpose and main features.

The most detailed section of the paper identifies and discusses the key sustainable development issues pertaining to IPRs. These are:

  • Health, food, agriculture and education
  • Innovation and industrial development generally with specific reference to biotechnology, information and communication technologies.
  • Technology transfer and foreign direct investment
  • Administrative and institutional challenges for developing countries, especially relating to enforcement of TRIPS and setting up the administrative structures.
  • Human rights
  • Traditional knowledge, folklore and cultural property
  • Biodiversity and environment
  • Exceptions to patentability

Finally the paper looks at other forums and agreements promoting standardisation and/or harmonisation of IPR rules. These include the WIPO conventions and some bilateral trade agreements that deal specifically with IPRs but also other international agreements which touch on IPR issues such a the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the FAO International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources.

The author also includes two useful appendices on TRIPS detailing key issues and features of the agreement and useful publications.