Intellectual Property Rights in the Global Economy.

Author:Adkisson, Richard V.
Position:Book Review

by Keith E. Maskus. Washington, D.C.: Institute for International Economics. 2000. Paper, ISBN: 0881322822, $25.00. 266 pages.

The protection of intellectual property rights, patents, copyrights, trade secret protections, and trademarks has a long history. In recent decades, interest in the topic has increased, especially in the international arena. As Keith Maskus puts it, "the successful conclusion of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) as a founding component of the World Trade Organization (WTO) elevates recognition and enforcement of IPRs to the level of inviolable international commitment." The increasing attention being paid to global intellectual property rights (IPRs) bas exposed several unresolved but important issues that will need to be addressed before IPRs can be rationalized worldwide. To identify the important issues surrounding global IPRs and to catalog what is known and not known about the issue are the purposes of Maskus' book, Intellectual Property Rights in the Global Economy.

Maskus assumes his readers have some general knowledge of intellectual property rights but still provides an extensive overview of the IPR issue. He spends three chapters outlining the issues, distinguishing between different types of property rights, and discussing the relative importance of intellectual property rights to different economic sectors. Having provided this background, the bulk of his analysis is aimed at questions regarding the relationship between international property rights and economic development. Generally, he concludes that economic development can be enhanced by stronger intellectual property rights but qualifies this conclusion with references to historical examples. As further moves toward stronger intellectual property rights are considered, three fundamental problems must be resolved. One problem is to agree that intellectual property rights are necessary and then to find the appropriate level of intellectual property protection. The second problem is related and arises when the IPR discussion moves to the global stage. It is to reconcile the conflicting interests of technology-producing and technology-using nations. Finally, the interactions between IPR policy and other national policies must be considered as the IPR regime evolves.

The first problem arises whether IPRs are discussed in a national or international context. Intellectual assets share some characteristics with...

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