Book Description

Intellectual property rights (IPRs)—patents, copyrights, and trademarks—have moved from an arcane area of legal analysis and a policy backwater to the forefront of global economic policymaking. Apple and Samsung's patent battle illustrates the importance of IPRs and how they impact everyone. Private Rights and Public Problems is a completed update of the seminal, oft-cited 2000 study, Intellectual Property Rights in the Global Economy . This new book documents the remarkable global changes in IPRs policies that have taken place since the founding of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and analyzes both the benefits and costs of the global IPRs system.

Does stronger IPRs protection increase incentives for innovation and raise returns to international technology transfer or does it raise the cost of acquiring new technology and products? Have the changes benefited technology producers or technology consumers? Do these policies help or hinder the transfer of key technologies used to address critical global public needs, such as essential medicines, green technologies, bio-engineered seed varieties, products made from genetic resources, and scientific and educational materials? The book examines these issues through an analysis of the economic effects of extended international protection and partial harmonization of IPRs. Ultimately, it argues that the global IPRs system stands at a fundamental crossroad, facing more challenges than ever before. It makes several suggestions for improving the efficiency and fairness of the newly globalized system in the near future, if the political will can be found.

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Editorial Reviews

A landmark publication produced by a distinguished author who continues to lead in a field he helped create and define, this volume offers three essential resources that policy discussions on intellectual property always need but rarely exhibit so abundantly: theoretical precision, a sound empirical footing, and robust common sense.

Antony Taubman, Director, Intellectual Property Division, World Trade Organization

It is hard to find an area of international commerce in which policy discussions do not touch on questions of intellectual property (IP) protection – whether they concern medicines or music, seeds or solar cells. Few economists have studied these questions as thoroughly as Keith Maskus. This book is a state-of-the art resource for anyone seeking insight into thinking and evidence on international IP matters.

Carsten Fink, Chief Economist, World Intellectual Property Organization

Keith Maskus remains essential reading. Twelve years after Intellectual Property Rights in the Global Economy, this book builds upon more than fifteen years of experience since the inception of the WTO TRIPS Agreement. Lucidly written, it makes available economic analysis and policy suggestions to a wider audience interested in the legal challenges of shaping a proper balance of private rights and public goods. The book makes a critical contribution to the debate.

Thomas Cottier, Managing Director, World Trade Institute, University of Bern, Switzerland

In this book, Maskus maps out the landscape of what we know and do not know in this critical policy domain and offers up a useful, balanced, and thought-provoking set of policy recommendations. Not everyone who cares about innovation and technology diffusion in the 21st century global economy will agree with all the recommendations Maskus makes, but even those who disagree will benefit from reading this book.

Lee Branstetter, Associate Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University, and former Senior Economist, Council of Economic Advisers


Selected chapters and sections are provided for preview only.




1. Introduction: The Big Stakes in Selling Knowledge

2. The Big Global Upgrade: Is It Working?

3. Global Governance

4. Regulating a Stressed System

5. Intellectual Property Rights and Global Policy Challenges

6. Revitalizing a Tired System References


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