Does the TRIPS Agreement incorporate any binding provisions by virtue of which developed countries are legally obliged to provide financial assistance and promote technology transfer to developing and least developed countries?

No. TRIPS had been accepted by developing and least developed countries against the transfer of technology and the opening of agricultural markets. As a matter of fact, supported by empirical historical evidence, countries adopted stronger patent protection once they have developed strong technology. However, the ability of a country to choose a level of patent protection that corresponds to its level of technology had disappeared with the TRIPS. Again, technology transfer is a long term process, and in the meantime large sums of money will be transferred from developing to developed countries. It is in the interest of all industrialized countries to reinforce their dominant position in research, technological innovation and industrial protection by strengthening intellectual property rights and pressing for worldwide system.

A stronger and enforceable global system of IPRs would provide principal countries in manufacturing and technology with unfettered authority to determine how innovative products where to be used and by whom. In this respect, it would be difficult to challenge the dominant position of the industrialized countries in research, technological innovation and industrial production. Technology is the main competitive factor. An intellectual property regime characterized by being too open as regards technological and scientific achievements would probably permit developing countries to imitate innovations worked in the industrial world. The competition shown by the NIC countries is considered by countries such as the U.S.A as an unintended transfer of wealth due to lack of strong intellectual property enforcement machinery which gave rise to proliferation of counterfeiting and piracy. It is submitted that a strong IP protection would promote domestic and economic growth by encouraging the inflow of foreign technology and eventually result in an increase of local innovation. However NIC countries continue to maintain weak IP protection due to the strong monopoly power of giant multinational companies. The approach followed by NIC countries does not appear to be a strategic option residing on a trade-off between innovation and imitation. The slow tempo of the dissemination of knowledge due to the monopoly power grip underlies the said approach. The inference is well-nigh irresistible. In the end the industrialized countries would opt for trade rather than to diffuse their technology. Under the circumstances, imitation may be sought as a vehicle to increase dissemination of knowledge to the effect of furnishing the consumer with cheaper cost varieties.

A strong intellectual property regime would ultimately lead to a technological and scientific monopoly prone to maintain the status quo or even reverse the situation and hence pave the way for industrialized countries’ products to dominate the global market. This is made easier by elimination of the obligation to exploit patents locally. Such a change would support multinational companies to recoup R& D expenditure. Under the TRIPS regime patents are an instrument for retaining and increasing industrial capabilities in developed countries while also controlling commercialization of protected goods and services in the rest of the world. If the new intellectual property regime would ultimately lead to market control, the justification for overseas investment may be substantially weakened. On the other hand, the motive to transfer technology or establish productive facilities in the developing world may substantially slacken or disappear. The TRIPS Agreement provides world protection which developed countries have been seeking. It narrows access to technology, and slows down the expected rapid diffusion of new technology to developing countries. The new notion carried in the TRIPS Agreement requires changes in many of the basic principles of the legal systems as developed by international conventions and national legislation. It includes the expansion of new areas such as biotechnology, integrated circuits, computer programs, the universlaization of standards of protection and the strengthening of enforcement mechanism.

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