The Global Debate on the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights and Developing Countries

by Carsten Fink, Carlos Correa

Intellectual Property and Sustainable Development Series • Issue Paper 22

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The Global Debate on the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights and Developing Countries 1.05 MB

Issue paper 22, The Global Debate on the Enforcement of Intellectual  Property Rights and Developing Countries brings together two studies: The first by Carsten Fink entitled Enforcing Intellectual Property Rights: An Economic Perspective and  the second by Carlos Correa entitled The Push for Stronger IPRs Enforcement Rules: Implications for Developing Countries.

The enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRs) has gained  prominence in recent years on the global trade and intellectual  property agenda. A number of initiatives and developments in this area  at the global, regional and bilateral level carry wide reaching  implications for the regulation of the knowledge economy.

In the first study, Carsten Fink provides a much needed economic perspective on the enforcement of IPRs. Some of the key conclusions and recommendations of the study are the following :

·         There is little empirical evidence that would shed light on the economic impact of piracy and counterfeiting.
·         The appropriate allocation of resources for IPRs enforcement is a major challenge for developing countries, where many public goods are underprovided and enforcement challenges exist in many areas of law.
·         Appropriate funding of competent government agencies in developing countries is necessary for IPRs enforcement;
·         Since developed country firms derive a direct benefit from  stronger IPRs enforcement, it may indeed be in the interest of their governments to subsidize IPRs enforcement activities in developing countries. It could also be envisaged that enforcement costs be borne  directly by private rights holders.
·         If weak IPRs enforcement in developing countries reflects fundamental institutional deficiencies, it is not clear how far obligations in trade agreements or technical assistance activities can at all remedy such deficiencies.
·         Outside incentives—whether positive or negative—may well make a difference in containing counterfeiting and piracy activities and their international proliferation. However, in many cases, sustained reductions in IPRs violations may invariably have to wait for broader institutional development

In the second study, Carlos Correa addresses the push for stronger IPRs enforcement rules and its implications for developing countries. Some of the key conclusions and recommendations of the study are the following:

·         A number of initiatives have been recently launched with the aim of strengthening IPRs enforcement rules beyond the requirements of the TRIPS Agreement.
·         Although the TRIPS Agreement requires criminal sanctions only in cases of willful trademark counterfeiting or copyright piracy on a commercial scale, the current enforcement drive aims at  criminalizing other infringing acts, inclduding patent infringement.
·         Developed countries’ governments and industry are actively seeking to induce changes in the regulation of border measures in developing countries, beyond what is required under the TRIPS Agreement. They aim, inter alia, at broadening their scope  and at reducing the requirements imposed on right holders to obtain such measures.
·         A major issue in the enforcement drive is the relation between IP and health. The application of an IP approach to what is essentially a public health issue may lead to the adoption of an inadequate set of measures. In the case of counterfeit medicines, the appropriate design and implementation of drug regulations is the most critical element in combating counterfeiting in medicines.

One response to “The Global Debate on the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights and Developing Countries”

  1. Akanle Olayinka

    Intellectual Property issues are directly development ones. In fact, they impinge on development efforts and eventual (non)realisations in many important respects. For instance, violations of Intellectual Property rights are disincentives to willingness to engage in crucial professional activities that have capcities to jump start and sustain development tempos. Lack of protection of IP rights therefore slow down development processes or even truncate them since strategic experts would not feel secure in such porous environments. These background dynamics are no doubt why development is still elusive in many developing countries till date. Intellectual Property rights violations manifest in many important respects. In Nigeria, it mostly manifest in form of nearly intractable piracy. The Nigerian governmnet is however trying to address the monster. Such political commitments was recently displyed through a nationwide survey on Piracy in Nigeria to scientifically capture associated factors. This publication from ICTSD is therefore very useful and welcomed as it would further improve knowledge and discourse on an important aspect of development that has not been well prioritised.

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