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Policy space for development in the WTO and beyond: the case of intellectual property rights

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Global governance in intellectual property (IP) has changed dramatically in the last two decades, and these changes have profound – and worrying – implications for late development. What was once principally an instrument of national policy is now increasingly subject to international disciplines, as the world moves ever-closer to harmonization in the area of IP management. But moving toward harmonization and achieving harmonization are different matters, and it is essential to keep in mind that the former and not the latter describes contemporary arrangements: the trend is toward a reduction in policy space, a feature that many scholars and activists point to with great concern (Gallagher, 2005), but the outcome remains one where countries retain space for autonomous IP management. This paper examines the relationship between IP and development, presenting a framework for assessing IP regimes both cross-nationally and over time. It is then shown how the trend toward harmonization places new and significant restrictions on developing countries’ opportunities for policy innovation in IP management. The implications of harmonization for a range of issues are then considered, including late industrialization, promotion of public health, and protection of biodiversity.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/27077/

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