Private Power, Public Law: The Globalization of Intellectual Property Rights

Private Power, Public Law: The Globalization of Intellectual Property Rights

Private Power, Public Law: The Globalization of Intellectual Property Rights

Private Power, Public Law: The Globalization of Intellectual Property Rights

Synopsis

Susan K. Sell's book shows how power in international politics is increasingly exercised by private interests rather than governments. In 1994 the WTO adopted the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which dictated to states how they should regulate the protection of intellectual property. This book argues that TRIPS resulted from lobbying by twelve powerful CEOs of multinational corporations who wished to mould international law to protect their markets. This book examines the politics leading up to TRIPS, the first seven years of its implementation, and the political backlash against TRIPS in the face of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Focusing on global capitalism, ideas, and economic coercion, this work explains the politics behind TRIPS and the controversies created in its wake. It is a fascinating study of the influence of private interests in government decision-making, and in the shaping of the global economy.

Excerpt

In 1990 an American-based private business association used its power not only to reject, but to actively shape, the legislation of a foreign, sovereign government. Up until 1991 Chile, like many developing countries, refused to grant patent protection for pharmaceutical products. This refusal was an effort to keep the prices of necessary medicines affordable by placing public health considerations above property rights concerns. in the late 1980s Chile faced increasing pressure from the USbased Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of America (PMA) to revise its laws to extend patent protection to pharmaceutical products. the pma sought a law providing for monopoly pricing protection for twenty-five years, potentially placing necessary medicines out of reach for the average Chilean. in 1990 the Chilean government proposed a revised patent law, which the pma rejected as inadequate. in response, the Chileans went back to the drawing board. Chile finally came up with a law providing patent protection for pharmaceutical products for a fifteen-year period. the pma declared that it was satisfied. the PMA’s role in this matter was intriguing. Where did this power come from? How had this situation come to pass?

The Chilean incident foreshadowed a related and even more dramatic event – the adoption of the 1994 Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) administered by the World Trade Organization (WTO). trips ushered in a full-blown, enforceable global intellectual property (IP) regime that reaches deep into the domestic regulatory environment of states. the central player in this drama was an even smaller group, the ad hoc US-based twelve member Intellectual Property Committee (IPC).

Consisting of twelve chief executive officers (representing pharmaceutical, entertainment, and software industries), the Intellectual . . .

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