The North-South Debate Regarding Protection of Intellectual Property Rights

One of the longest running debates between industrialized and developing countries focuses on the scope of protection for intellectual property rights.  Industrialized countries, such as the United States, have argued for strong legal protections of their technologies and associated rights–patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets–as necessary incentives for investment in innovation.  On the other hand, developing countries seeking to accelerate their entry into global markets and improve the daily lives of their citizens have been reluctant to recognize intellectual property rights that would deny them access to technologies and basic essentials such as pharmaceuticals.  This is a dilemna that Alan Gutterman, the Director of the International Center for Growth-Oriented Entrepreneurship, which supports this blog, first wrote about in a 1993 article that  appeared in the Wake Forest Law Review.   Since that time countries on both sides of the debate have been forced to review their positions and intellectual property protection has been a regular item on the agenda whenever multi-lateral negotiations take place on trade-related issues; however, significant gaps remain in content and enforcement of intellectual property laws around the world and exporters from all countries must carefully evaluate intellectual property rights for every new export destination and determine the best strategy to use for protecting their rights in the applicable foreign country.

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