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Global Dimensions of Intellectual Property Rights in Science and Technology
of retaliatory U.S. trade action in response to alleged infringement of protection for pharmaceutical products.
During the conference discussion, Deepak Nayyar suggested that transnational corporations (TNCs) operating in developing countries are also using their influence to encourage stronger IPR laws. The incentive for stronger laws may be attributed to technological progress in telecommunications and computers that have allowed TNCs greater flexibility in the international marketplace. The ability to easily transfer and access the data of subsidiaries around the globe gives a parent company the power of centralization. The more consistent IPR regimes worldwide, the easier it becomes to treat the products of subsidiaries as if they were all in one place. The global dispersion of production, distribution, and marketing has given transnational companies an opportunity to take advantage of the world economy and its resources. Standardization of IPR laws is a further step toward the ''globalization" of markets, the removal of uncertainty in transactions, and the elimination of requirements for special strategies for each country or market.
One discussant at the conference wondered if yesterday's NIEs are today's industrialized countries because they had a lax IPR regime in the past. In an environment in which IPR protection is weak, a nation could theoretically move along the technology learning curve without paying for foreign technology, while attracting capital investment in less costly reproduction capabilities (because of the absence of R&D costs). The accumulation of capital and expertise can push a country into the next stage of industrialization. It has also been noted that the NIEs have instituted stronger levels of protection only since their level of industrial development has risen, a fact that supports the argument that, until there is innovation and development, there is no need for IPR protection. Carlos Primo Braga responded that despite the appearance, there is no evidence that the absence of strong IPRs has somehow contributed to or propelled economic growth and development. Bryan Harris added that conclusions about the effects of IPR laws are difficult to draw because some countries do not have intellectual property laws, but others have laws yet do not enforce them. It is not clear whether this difference has any differential effect on a nation's growth.
James Armstrong was asked at the conference if there was a similarity between Paul David's thesis that national IPR regimes have developed in response to the particular development of industries and the recent reciprocal criticisms of the United States and Japan, each of which has claimed that the patent system of the other is geared to protecting and promoting local technology over foreign technology. Mr. Armstrong argued against this notion, saying that he could see no basic differences between the standards of patentability in the two countries. He acknowledged, however, that the two nations approach IPR legal issues differently, a by-product of