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Issues for Future Research

As might be expected on a topic as complex and multifaceted as intellectual property rights (IPRs), a variety of rich and promising avenues of future research have been discussed in this volume. The purpose of the conference, however, was not to produce a set of recommended priorities for future IPR research. Nevertheless, given the important intellectual explorations that are clearly needed with respect to both the domestic and the international aspects of the IPR problem, we present below an unprioritized list of issues, derived from ideas raised in this volume, that may warrant further investigation in the short term. We leave it to others to evaluate the merits and relative priority of these research issues and to formulate appropriate strategies for responding to them.

Research Issue: The introduction of IPRs throughout the world has involved propagating as broadly as possible a Western cultural view of the concepts of ownership and rights. Some non-Western countries have voluntarily adopted Western-style IPR laws in the process of modernization. Western countries cannot necessarily count on a continuation of this pattern of adoption, however, as the negotiating positions of Brazil and India in the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) negotiations appear to reveal. Other cultures and legal traditions, including those in Asia and throughout the Islamic world, may have different concepts of optimal ways to encourage creative participation in society. These alternative cultural traditions and practices must be better understood in building a new global IPR paradigm.



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OCR for page 391
Global Dimensions of Intellectual Property Rights in Science and Technology Coda Issues for Future Research As might be expected on a topic as complex and multifaceted as intellectual property rights (IPRs), a variety of rich and promising avenues of future research have been discussed in this volume. The purpose of the conference, however, was not to produce a set of recommended priorities for future IPR research. Nevertheless, given the important intellectual explorations that are clearly needed with respect to both the domestic and the international aspects of the IPR problem, we present below an unprioritized list of issues, derived from ideas raised in this volume, that may warrant further investigation in the short term. We leave it to others to evaluate the merits and relative priority of these research issues and to formulate appropriate strategies for responding to them. Research Issue: The introduction of IPRs throughout the world has involved propagating as broadly as possible a Western cultural view of the concepts of ownership and rights. Some non-Western countries have voluntarily adopted Western-style IPR laws in the process of modernization. Western countries cannot necessarily count on a continuation of this pattern of adoption, however, as the negotiating positions of Brazil and India in the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) negotiations appear to reveal. Other cultures and legal traditions, including those in Asia and throughout the Islamic world, may have different concepts of optimal ways to encourage creative participation in society. These alternative cultural traditions and practices must be better understood in building a new global IPR paradigm.

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Global Dimensions of Intellectual Property Rights in Science and Technology Research Issue: The argument that weak forms of IPRs or high levels of piracy have possibly negative effects on innovation and economic growth must be taken very seriously. This line of thought must be contrasted with the view expressed by Paul David in Chapter 2 that, under some conditions, IPRs can have seriously detrimental consequences for the process of innovation. There are currently few data on the effects of IPRs on invention and innovation under different conditions that might help resolve this debate. Research Issue: The effects of high levels of IPR protection on the economies of developing countries have been little studied because the field of economics has begun to devote serious attention to the IPR problem relatively recently. Development theory previously assumed that the principal route to development was through capital formation. Research Issue: No clear consensus has been reached in this volume on the superiority of a uniform, high-protection, global IPR system over a differentiated system, which is determined by individual national interests. Here again, adequate data do not exist to substantiate either view. Moreover, analyses of the short- and long-term benefits to developing countries of one approach versus the other are almost entirely lacking. Research Issue: The lack of good data and information on the benefits and costs of strong IPRs to developing countries will likely affect the outcome of the current General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) negotiations on TRIPs. How far can the United States expect to push developing countries to strengthen their IPR systems when it cannot be shown that the current level of protection is too low or that stronger protection would be in their interest? Research Issue: The United States has been able to make headway with the newly industrialized countries (NICs) on IPR issues through the use of bilateral negotiations and the threat of trade retaliation. It is debatable, however, whether the United States will have much further success with this strategy. Is there evidence that losses due to IPR infringement have declined in those countries? Is there evidence that stronger IPR protection by the NICs has stimulated technology transfer or indigenous innovation? Research Issue: In Chapter 5, Edwin Mansfield suggests three types of studies that might help to estimate the size of the effect of stronger IPR protection on the promotion of indigenous technological innovation activities in developing countries: a study to determine the effects of stronger patent protection on the size and composition of the R&D expenditures of firms located or headquartered in selected developing countries and on their rate of commercialization of new products and processes; a study to explore the costs and benefits to developing countries of modifying their patent systems; and

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Global Dimensions of Intellectual Property Rights in Science and Technology a study to estimate the effects of stronger IPR protection on the size and composition of R&D expenditures by multinational firms in developing countries. Research Issue: How precisely should IPR laws attempt to define and focus on specific technologies? The process of scientific and technological advance is changing in ways that challenge the effectiveness of IPRs in stimulating economically valuable innovations. Is the current IPR system capable of adequately handling new technologies? If not, is it preferable to modify existing IPR forms or to examine alternatives? What might be the nature of these alternatives? Research Issue: One of the concerns expressed about sui generis approaches to IPRs is that they would lead to piecemeal legislative solutions. Also, it is not clear whether sui generis approaches and international harmonization of existing IPR laws are compatible. An alternative to sui generis laws that is less frequently mentioned is the development of a fundamentally new IPR legal approach that would be, in effect, a new paradigm. What would be included in the basic outlines of such an approach? Research Issue: Bryan Harris notes in Chapter 6 that IPR harmonization for its own sake cannot be justified without a basic understanding of "the relationship between the economic interests of intellectual property owners and intellectual property users." The push by the United States for harmonization in GATT has moved forward without a full understanding of possible negative impacts on some sectors of U.S. industry. More research is needed to elucidate the effects of strong versus weak IPR protection on the use and development of new, protected technologies. Research Issue: What are the practical effects on corporate competitive strategies of the fundamental differences in patent law and practice between the United States, which requires that an inventor demonstrate that he/she is the "first to invent," and other advanced industrialized countries, which adhere to a "first-to-file" approach?

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