A survey of national approaches to intellectual property around the world today compared with 10 years ago would show remarkable change. In the developed countries there is a high level of ferment as the basic concepts of intellectual property are tested by new forms of technology. There is also tension over how to achieve higher degrees of congruence, but that objective and those basic concepts are not seriously in question. There is also ferment in the developing countries.
Mexico, which experimented with destruction of some basic intellectual property concepts in the 1970s, reformed its system last year to bring it well above the 70 rating noted earlier. Argentina has recently put before its congress a draft patent law with a striking resemblance to the new Mexican law. Officials of the two countries conferred on the draft. Chile moved forward early last year, and the Andean Community countries are close to reform of their common intellectual property regime. India has reform under consideration.
The former Soviet Union, shortly before its collapse, made dramatic reforms in its intellectual property system in anticipation of conversion to a market-driven economy. The reforms even included a strong trade secret law, apparently designed to prevent loss of valuable technology bottled up until now in state institutions.
Starting from virtually nothing, the People's Republic of China has instituted many elements of an effective intellectual property system in the last 10 years and continues to move in this direction. Whether it plays any part in daily activity is not clear, although there are reports of enforcement litigation in some fields that point to a concrete influence.
Brazil has on the drawing board reform in several areas of its intellectual property system. In addition to the well-publicized patent law reform, this includes work on separate draft laws for protection of semiconductor chips and plant breeders' rights. This is particularly interesting because these are areas of the system that the United States has not raised with Brazil.
There may be resistance to reform from various quarters in various countries, but few are advocating less protection or no protection these days. Today, resistance often comes from a dislike of being pressured by the United States rather than from any deep sense that reform is ultimately wrong.
It appears that as countries shift from command economies to market-driven economies there is a correlative shift from weak to strong intellectual property protection. This is surely more than an accident, yet not quite an axiom. Where the state is the only actor, there is thought to be very little need for intellectual property, that is, for rules that delineate the positions