Brazil's Incentive-Less Innovation Is Not a Viable Economic Development Model for LDCs

Article excerpt

Once in a long while, a person comes along who knows the inside scoop or holds a penetrating insight about a particular issue or situation that others simply overlook, ignore or take for granted. Lawrence Kogan is one such person who, in my opinion, correctly sees a major paradigm shift slowly taking shape in the international law of intellectual property rights.

As Mr. Kogan explains, in painstaking detail, this shift is occurring notwithstanding the fact that successful private property rights regimes have resulted in remarkable scientific and technological advances and generated exceptional economic wealth throughout the world.

This very comprehensive article represents a clear understanding of why we should all take pause and reevaluate the bases underlying the unprecedented rate and degree of human progress that has taken place during the past century. In doing so, we will likely come to realize that we must prevent the new political alliance and experimental economic system now being formulated by Brazil and other misinformed governments and civil society activists from ever emerging.

Without the incentive of private property ownership, individual-based invention and creation, not to mention commercial innovation, would have been largely non-existent. As a result, we human beings would have likely remained a subsistence-based feudal society beholden to the political elite. If we erroneously decide, for reasons of political expediency, to severely restrict or eliminate private intellectual property rights in the life sciences and information technology fields, we once again run the very real risk of technological and economic stagnation, and perhaps, regression.

Private property rights are integral to and an indispensable part of human destiny, and thus, the human condition. They also represent basic human values by rewarding those of us capable and willing to assume the economic risk of invention, creation and innovation. Indeed, investors are unlikely to finance new discoveries and inventions that can advance our societies and improve the quality of our lives unless they are entitled to receive exclusive rewards/returns for the risks they have assumed.

Real world history supports such logic. Soviet-style communism largely collapsed in Eastern Europe because of the absence of individual incentive-based private property rights regimes. Furthermore, the nations of the African continent have suffered repeatedly as the result of misconceived World Bank structural adjustment and participatory development programs. These programs were unsuccessful in promoting African economic development, in part, because they did not emphasize the importance of private property rights. More importantly, however, they failed also because they did not recognize how the African culture itself epitomized the largely unproductive 'open sharing' ethic that it had inherited from its former European colonizers. Africa needs to move away from this paradigm to one where women actually have the right of property ownership. Therefore, the worst thing that could happen now is for African countries to experience, yet again, a new economic experiment.

In light of all this, it is very surprising and quite disturbing that Brazil would take the lead in advocating a new global anti-intellectual property right paradigm favoring open source and universal access to knowledge. …