Innovation, Intellectual Property, and Development: A Better Set of Approaches for the 21st Century

Baker, Dean; Jayadev, Arjun; Stiglitz, Joseph E.

This paper aims to provide an intellectual basis to think about the relationship between development, intellectual property and innovation; where we currently are and what alternatives are available. For the most part, we are concerned less with the implications of current IP laws for the advanced countries as we are with their impact on developing countries. We focus here not only on the current pathologies of the system and on potential alternative ways to tackle its most egregious excesses; but on a more positive note, on what kind of “system” would best promote development and well-being in the developing world. We are looking for a world with new and better rules for intellectual property. Just as some have begun to think about re-writing the rules of the American economy to ensure a more just and efficient system, the time is ripe for doing the same for the global economy, especially with regard to the IP system. This paper begins by outlining the basic logic for the implementation of intellectual property rights and detail alternatives to providing private monopolies to promote innovation. We then turn to the question of intellectual property rights and the process of development. Both theory and the preponderance of historical evidence suggest that development, at least in its initial stages, is best promoted by a weaker intellectual property regime than reflected in TRIPS, or at the minimum a markedly different regime. In particular, we show that the current global regime of intellectual property rights is inadequate in serving the purpose of economic development and welfare. We then examine an extensive set of case studies in which the current regime has proved to be ineffective and a hindrance to welfare. These are in the areas of food security, education and climate change. We go on to provide a simple laundry list of ways in which better laws could facilitate development and prevent the worst excesses of the global IP regime.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
AccessIBSA: Innovation & Access to Medicines in India, Brazil & South Africa
Published Here
April 15, 2019