Intellectual Property Rights, Economic Power, and Global Technological Integration
14 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2013
Date Written: 1996
In my introduction to this Symposium I suggested that the expansion of international intellectual property rights in the context of global technological integration called for the development of new perspectives for assessing this phenomenon and its implications. In this Essay I explore the value of one such perspective.
My starting point is the claim — I think uncontroversial — that the consequences of conferring rights frequently depend on the power relationships within which those rights operate. In the context of intellectual property rights, for example, this means that granting a monopoly right to an international industry leader such as Microsoft is likely to have consequences quite different from those that would ensue if the same rights were granted to a local computer whiz in New Delhi. In assessing the international expansion of such rights, therefore, it may be revealing to examine the relationship between intellectual property rights and economic power.
This Essay sketches aspects of the interplay between expanded rights and the increased economic power of holders of those rights; suggests a framework for assessing potential harms from this interplay; and offers a cautious proposal for responding to such harms.
Keywords: intellectual property rights, antitrust law, competition law, international law, economics, technology
JEL Classification: K19, K21, K33, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation