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Introduction

This section represents the final session of the conference, which addressed the question, What next? A distinguished, eclectic panel was asked to think about certain major features of the international intellectual property right (IPR) regime and the interaction between science and technology and IPRs. In addition to synthesizing some of the more significant themes emerging from the conference, the panelists offered personal—and, in some cases, contrary—views on the future direction of the global IPR issue.

In Chapter 16, the first speaker, Robert E. Evenson, professor of economics at the Economic Growth Center at Yale University, addresses the concept of IPRs as infrastructure, specifically with reference to their role in developing countries. He argues that international IPR conventions have not worked well for the poorest countries because they do not have exporters' interests to protect. Evenson contends on this basis that it may not be realistic for the United States and other advanced industrialized countries to expect to use trade laws, such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), to convince developing countries to join the ''club," because they simply have different economic and technological development objectives, perspectives, and capabilities. He suggests that the newly industrialized countries (NICs) and "near NICs" have used IPRs to facilitate competence and capacity building, but that IPRs have not been their major policy instruments. Evenson recommends that the discussion of IPRs in developing countries emphasize the stimulation of local R&D as opposed solely or primarily to facilitating technology transfer from other countries.



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OCR for page 357
Global Dimensions of Intellectual Property Rights in Science and Technology Introduction This section represents the final session of the conference, which addressed the question, What next? A distinguished, eclectic panel was asked to think about certain major features of the international intellectual property right (IPR) regime and the interaction between science and technology and IPRs. In addition to synthesizing some of the more significant themes emerging from the conference, the panelists offered personal—and, in some cases, contrary—views on the future direction of the global IPR issue. In Chapter 16, the first speaker, Robert E. Evenson, professor of economics at the Economic Growth Center at Yale University, addresses the concept of IPRs as infrastructure, specifically with reference to their role in developing countries. He argues that international IPR conventions have not worked well for the poorest countries because they do not have exporters' interests to protect. Evenson contends on this basis that it may not be realistic for the United States and other advanced industrialized countries to expect to use trade laws, such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), to convince developing countries to join the ''club," because they simply have different economic and technological development objectives, perspectives, and capabilities. He suggests that the newly industrialized countries (NICs) and "near NICs" have used IPRs to facilitate competence and capacity building, but that IPRs have not been their major policy instruments. Evenson recommends that the discussion of IPRs in developing countries emphasize the stimulation of local R&D as opposed solely or primarily to facilitating technology transfer from other countries.

OCR for page 357
Global Dimensions of Intellectual Property Rights in Science and Technology David C. Mowery, associate professor of business and public policy in the Walter A. Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley, examines the investment and trade effects of changes in the IPR regime. He points out that it is impossible to judge whether the worldwide strengthening of IPRs would be in the U.S. national interest, because adequate empirical information on the costs and benefits is lacking. Mowery notes that the intersectoral trade-offs being negotiated within GATT to gain greater IPR protection may hurt some U.S. industries. He adds that a GATT settlement on IPRs may have only modest effects on foreign investment because so many factors play a role in the globalization of markets. Mowery stresses that, for the United States, much more needs to be learned about the domestic economic effects of the strengthening of U.S. domestic intellectual property protection that has taken place over the past decade. The third panelist, Michael Borrus, is codirector of the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy, also at the University of California at Berkeley. He focuses on regional asymmetries in the cost of and access to technology development and their implications for the future use of IPRs. Borrus comments that the rapid development and global diffusion of technology have reduced the ability of U.S. industry to appropriate know-how through non-IPR means (e.g., by maintaining lead time), which has motivated the United States to call for stronger protection. He notes that technologies in which the United States is strong seem to be particularly vulnerable to this phenomenon and adds that increased protection of IPRs does not address the underlying problems of asymmetrical access to accumulation of knowledge that exist among nations and are being exacerbated by the emergence of regionalized clusters of economic and technological competence. Borrus suggests that perhaps the time has come to consider complementary alternatives to the strict focus on IPR protection, which might include efforts to strengthen the nation's and firms' capacities to cycle technology more rapidly, to appropriate know-how developed elsewhere, and to use and diffuse new technological innovation more effectively. Robert W. Lucky, the former executive director of the Communications Science Research Division at AT&T Bell Laboratories, discusses trends in technology development and the future assertion of IPRs. He expresses concern about the fact that corporate R&D centers such as Bell Labs are finding it increasingly difficult (from the standpoint of corporate profitability) to justify investment in esoteric lines of fundamental research, particularly when many competitors do not make a similar investment and yet are able—through a variety of mechanisms (including the standard-setting process, the open literature, and conferences)—to access much of the intellectual property that a company such as AT&T produces. Lucky notes that researchers do not respond to the patent incentive; indeed, their motivation is to make their results public as rapidly and completely as possible. He

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Global Dimensions of Intellectual Property Rights in Science and Technology notes a number of global trends in the conduct of R&D that are exacerbating the problem. The last panelist, Eugene B. Skolnikoff, professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, addresses the relationship between technology and sovereignty, and the need for new mechanisms to resolve international IPR issues and conflicts. He argues that as global economic competition replaces older security concerns, strengthening IPRs may be seen as nationalistic and protectionist. Skolnikoff predicts that frictions between developed and developing countries will likely continue, because of the lack of developed country concern for the welfare of developing countries, and that the interest of many developing countries in some form of national and international protection is likely to parallel the extent to which knowledge spreads locally and indigenous technological capability is enhanced. He adds that he expects the bargaining power of developing countries to increase because their cooperation on global issues (e.g., climate change) is increasingly required to achieve additional progress. Skolnikoff also argues that it is unrealistic to expect to create one integrated, global IPR system that would provide adequate dispute resolution and be capable of keeping up with technological change. He acknowledges that although this is contrary to the view expressed by many at the conference, he believes it is a "fact of life." At the same time, Skolnikoff emphasizes that whether or not the United States likes it, the United Nations and other international organizations will remain essential for resolving IPR problems, and argues on this basis that the United States will continue to use the United Nations and to participate in the formulation of new international agreements, because there is little choice.