Can Intellectual Property in
Latin America Be Protected?
The development and commercialization of applied knowledge are widely recognized as the main source of economic growth ( Rosenberg and Birdzell 1986). Many authors have shown that, in developing countries, the definition and enforcement of clear intellectual property rules are essential to the feasibility of investment projects, especially foreign direct investment, and the enhancement of technological innovation among newly privatized firms ( Abramovitz 1989; Mansfield 1994). The ability to generate and use new ideas and technologies has always been the factor separating the winners from the losers, whether among firms or nations. But the views of producers and of the governments in developing countries toward intellectual property are very different from those held in technologically advanced nations.
Today, the developing countries generally regard the protection of intellectual property as a cultural prejudice or an economic policy variable; advanced nations consider such protection to be a fundamental right, comparable to holding physical property. In Latin America, for example, intellectual property is generally not regarded as an asset to be held privately but rather as "the heritage of humanity." In China, William P. Alford notes, historically, "true