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Protecting Intellectual Property: The Missing Link in International Development

April 29, 2014
Categories: Anti-corruption, Global Supply Chains, Intellectual Property

On April 22nd, the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) hosted an event, “Protecting Intellectual Property: The Missing Link in International Development” that featured panelists Rod Hunter, Senior Vice President for International Advocacy, PhRMA , Robert Shapiro, Former U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs and Cofounder and Chairman of Sonecon LLC, Scott Miller, Scholl Chair in International Business at CSIS, and Dr. Robert Bertram, Director for the Office of Agriculture, Research and Policy, USAID. The event focused on how intellectual property rights are dealt with in emerging markets and how their proper handling can be the key to economic success.

The event focused on India’s development, and how upcoming elections may change the way intellectual property is considered in the context of India’s economic growth. Bollywood esteems IPR as the key to ensuring high ticket sales both domestically and abroad. The panelists questioned how long it would realistically be before India begins to develop high-tech products, and stressed that protecting IPR is central to protecting this growing trend of creativity.

According to Rod Hunter, there is a significant loss from IP theft in India. As India moves up the value chain of production, addressing these issues becomes even more significant. He pointed out that, intellectual property can have wide-ranging benefits far exceeding its initial short-term gains or temporary losses.

Several factors must be present for an IP-conscious culture to flourish:

·         The transformative power of trade deals;

·         The capacity for special interests to express their concerns;

·         The need for think tanks; and

·         The need for robust regulatory systems that allow for innovation.

Citing a World Bank study, Shapiro noted that the greatest economic gains are achieved by the economies that protect IP and also open their IP to foreign investment. He also mentioned an OECD study that estimated that for every 1% gain to improvement for IP protection, countries realize a 3% gain in foreign direct investment.

The panelists gave three main reasons that countries fail in their efforts to protect IPR, at least in the short run:

1.       Domestic resistance to presence of foreign companies.

2.       FDI seen as a vehicle that threatens to change indigenous culture.

3.       Power of established domestic interests is great.

And while failure to protect IPR may yield short term political gains, it unequivocally sacrifices long-term economic prosperity in developing countries.

Check out the audio of the event here.