The expansion and restructuring of intellectual property and its implications for the developing world

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 11 (1):37 - 60 (2008)
In this paper we begin with a reference to the work of Hernando de Soto The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else, and his characterization of the Western institution of formal property . We note the linkages that he sees between the institution and successful capitalist enterprise. Therefore, given the appropriateness of his analysis, it would appear to be worthwhile for developing and less developed countries to adjust their systems of ownership to conform more closely to the Western system of formal property. However, we go on to point out that property relationships within the Western system have become subject to redefinition through the expansion of Intellectual Property (IP) rights in ways that ultimately work to the disadvantage of the developing and less developed countries. We point out that this restructuring has been given global application through the implementation of the TRIPS agreement by the WTO. In the final section of the paper I suggest ways in which IP rights and relevant institutions can be reformed in order to avoid the disadvantages to the developing and less developed countries.
Keywords Intellectual property  Ethical implications  Developing countries  World Trade Organization  Income rights  Development
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