Brussels, 13 Sep 2002
The commission on intellectual property rights has published a report stating that poverty reduction in developing countries will be hindered if intellectual property rights (IPR) are expanded without taking into account the individual circumstances of poor nations.
The IPR commission comprises experts in science, law, ethics and economics from both developed and developing countries. The group was set up in order to examine how IPR could work better for developing countries.
'Developed countries often proceed on the assumption that what is good for them is likely to be good for developing countries,' said John Barton from Stanford University and chair of the commission. 'But in the case of developing countries, more and stronger protection is not necessarily better.'
Recently, the use of patents has been encouraged as part of the process of globalisation, on the basis that they are essential if companies are to get back their investment in developing products. They have, however, also been criticised as a major obstacle to improvements in public health and food security in poor regions. People in developing countries could face higher prices for medicines and seeds.
The report argues that, rather than adopt a standard international form of intellectual property protection, developing countries need to draw up IP laws that promote more general development. They should also award more importance to reconciling their commercial self-interest with the need to reduce poverty in developing countries, it claims.
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