Intellectual Property Challenges for Developing Countries: An Economic Perspective

The global Intellectual Property system currently is undergoing substantial expansion and modernization, largely through implementation of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The TRIPS agreement envisions significantly stronger protection for intellectual property rights, investments in regulatory agencies to enforce these rights, and more consistent regimes of protection across international borders. An important economic question is the likely impact of these changes on developing nations. The issues involved in analyzing the role of intellectual property rights in promoting economic development and growth are extremely complex. Many of the relevant concepts are difficult to measure. Expanded intellectual property regimes also have numerous, often contradictory impacts on a nation\'s development. Despite these complexities, a growing body of research suggests that stronger intellectual property rights, if properly structured, can increase economic growth and encourage technological development.Developing nations face an important challenge reconciling intellectual property protection with the global push for more open, procompetitive trade. Professor Maskus has traveled to a number of developing countries and performed extensive economic research on the relationship of intellectual property rights regimes, trade, and economic growth. This article outlines the many issues that complicate this analysis, emphasizing the channels through which strengthened international intellectual property rights can stimulate or limit economic growth. After reviewing the current research, the article concludes that a regime of expanded property right protection holds considerable promise for promoting long-term economic growth and technological innovation among developing nations. Finally, the article provides policy and regulatory recommendations to complement intellectual property protection and curb potential system abuses. This article emphasizes the care that developing nations must exercise in implementing a new intellectual property regime.*Professor of Economics, University of Colorado, Boulder and Research Associate, Institute for International Economics, Washington, D.C. B.A. 1976, Knox; M.A. 1979; Ph.D. 1981, University of Michigan.

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