tensive firms at one level, to the industrialized, newly industrialized, and developing countries at another.
Governments have generally recognized, at least implicitly, the tradeoffs that are involved in IPR laws, and each nation has established national IPR systems that attempt to strike a balance between competing objectives that is deemed appropriate for its national economic, political, and social context. It is important to note in this regard that IPRs are primarily a matter of national jurisdiction (i.e., the protection offered to an innovation is governed by the laws of the nation in which the innovation is made, used, or sold). Thus, for example, a patent obtained from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides protection only within the territory of the United States. If a company is doing business in another country, it must file for and obtain IPR protection in that country. Moreover, the protection offered by that country's laws in many cases is not as strong as U.S. IPR protection. Although international IPR conventions exist, they do not establish specific rights. Instead, the extant international agreements attempt merely to ensure that, in any given country, foreign inventors receive the same rights as those granted to local inventors.
The protection offered by IPRs has never been complete, and for that reason many observers have criticized the idea that they grant even a temporary monopoly. Moreover, there has always been a tendency for some countries to seek to use IPR laws to favor domestic firms over foreign ones. (The major international IPR conventions are aimed at controlling this behavior in the interest of encouraging international trade.) Recent changes in global science, technology, trade, and economic development have, however, strained even further the effectiveness of IPRs in protecting S&T innovations.
This volume focuses on the nature of these changes, the challenges they present for national and international IPR systems, and their implications for science and technology. The Office of International Affairs of the National Research Council undertook an examination of the global dimensions of intellectual property rights in science and technology in response to increasing concern expressed by important segments of U.S. industry—and, to a lesser extent, the U.S. university research community—about the lack of uniform international treatment of IPRs and the difficulty of protecting their innovations from imitation. This examination took the form of a major conference, the proceedings of which are published in this volume.
A report of the U.S. International Trade Commission (1988:viii) estimated that the aggregate losses to U.S. industry from inadequate intellectual property protection in other countries in 1986 were $23.8 billion, or 2.7 percent of total sales. Much of the recent concern has focused on the developing world, particularly on the so-called newly industrializing countries (NICs), where patent and copyright laws have been weak or, in some cases, nonexistent. Unauthorized expropriation of intellectual property in