Trade-related intellectual property rights
Prior to the launch of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations in 1986, there were growing concerns in the USA and other developed countries over loss of export markets in various developing and newly industrializing countries due to weak protection of intellectual property rights. Some of these concerns related to counterfeit goods and the misappropriation of trademarks (for example, fake Rolex watches or Nike garments). Other concerns related to unauthorized reproduction of sound recordings and videos and breach of copyright held in these recordings or videos by the original performers or their publishers. Further concerns related to substantively lower levels of patent protection and less effective procedural protection of patent rights in many countries, leading to a proliferation of imitation products, including generic pharmaceuticals. For developed countries, which were losing their comparative advantage in low-skilled, “smokestack” manufacturing industries to developing and newly industrializing countries, it became an important priority to seek better protection of their comparative advantage in scientific and technological innovation through stronger protection of intellectual property rights.
As to justifications for extending western-style protection of intellectual property rights to developing or newly industrializing countries, proponents relied in part on deontological natural rights (Lockean) theories of labour whereby all individuals can claim a proprietary right to all the fruits of their labour, and hence argued that appropriation by others of the fruits of the labour of innovators was tantamount to “stealing from the mind”,1 although such theories would seem to imply an infinite duration to...
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