25 Years since TRIPS: Patent Policy and International Business
Special Issue Co-Editors:
Professor of Technology Strategy
Essex Business School
University of Essex
Professor of International Business,
DIG-Politecnico di Milano
Milan and University of Reading, UK
Professor in Development Studies
Department of International Development
London School of Economics
Special Issue Description
Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) have become ubiquitous in current debates about trade and globalization, and have emerged as a key issue of contention in global trade and investment negotiations. The 'Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights' (TRIPS), signed in 1994 as a founding element of the World Trade Organization, represents the most important attempt to establish a global harmonization of Intellectual Property protection, creating international standards for the protection of patents, copyrights, trademarks and designs. As part of the World Trade Organization, it also is subject to that organization’s dispute settlement system, and thus, unlike previous international agreements on IPRs, includes enforcement procedures at the intergovernmental level.
Protecting IPRs of course means different things for firms, who most profit from them, and for governments, who bear the burden of creating the infrastructure for the enforcement of IPRs (and, in some areas, are among the major consumers of goods protected by IPRs). The processes of IP legislation and enforcement can thus be difficult and controversial. In designing IP polices governments need to mindful of balancing the reward for innovative activity with the incentives for diffusion of that innovation. Put differently, the interests of the producers must be arrayed against the interests of the consumer. Even within a national economy, this may be difficult as producers are much better organized to lobby policy than are consumers (Olsen 1962). In an international context this can be almost impossible to achieve without some supra-national intervention. Thus the adoption of TRIPS at the multilateral level and its implementation at national levels has been fraught with conflicts, as many political scientists (e.g. May and Sell, 2006; Ryan, 1998; Sell, 2003; Matthews 2002; Deere 2008) and economists (e.g., Archibugi and Filippetti, 2010; Maskus, 2000; Maskus and Reichman, 2005) have shown.
Nearly two and a half decades after TRIPS came into effect, much has changed in the global innovation landscape. Technology trade has flourished and more technology has been transferred to emerging market subsidiaries by MNEs. China has emerged as a major power making huge strides in patenting in both domestic, European and US jurisdictions (Hu et al 2017; Li 2012). Indian public research institutes like CSIR have found patenting has helped them become more self-reliant for funds. New institutional forms of Intellectual Property which pool patents have also emerged in response to the global challenges. Examples include the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) to tackle AIDS (WIPO 2011), the GAVI alliance to improve childhood immunization (Kremer and Grennerster, 2004) and the EcoPatent Commons, GreenXchange and Canada’s Oil Sands Alliance (COSIA) to control carbon emissions (Awad, 2015).
Although IB theories emphasize the role of innovation and technological change in originating and strengthening the competitive advantages of the MNE, IB scholarship has focused mostly on considering IPR regulations as a location advantage/disadvantage (e.g. Ivus, Park, Saggi, 2017), or an institutional factor (e.g., Peng, Ahlstrom, Carraher, Shi, 2017a, b; Peng, 2013) interacting with MNE strategies. This is a narrow view and one that does not address the emerging new institutional developments around intellectual property policy and the effects of these on trade, investment and multinational behavior.
TRIPS also generated new political configurations between governments and business (and other social actors) and, importantly, the use of non-market strategies to influence IPR policy. Understanding these new patterns of organization and political mobilization, traditionally the domain of political economy, is exceedingly important in the context of emerging markets where implementing TRIPS implied substantial changes to national laws and policies. The most studied sector in this regard has been pharmaceuticals, as TRIPS required countries to allow drugs to be patented when many countries previously did not do so. National debates are no longer about whether drug firms should get patents, but how strong the associated rights should be, and how long these rights of exclusion should last for. Shadlen (2017) shows that national approaches to both introducing pharmaceutical patent systems and reforming these new patent systems have been driven by constellations of interests in society (rather than, for example, the ideology of incumbent presidents or the nature of political institutions). These issues, namely how the focal points of debate have changed and the search for drivers of cross-national and within-country variation, are common to a range of global challenges, beyond pharmaceuticals, such as clean technologies and global warming.
As regional trading blocs run into political problems it may be worth reassessing the TRIPS experience once again to highlight what has worked well and what has not. The proposed special issue aims at stimulating a wider discussion on the international patenting landscape, its use by emerging markets and the influence on trade and MNE strategies. This is a two-way interaction where firm behaviors can help/influence the design of better IP policies, but whose successful implementation in turn requires cooperation from firms (Lundan, 2018). This special issue is aimed at an inter-disciplinary audience in a genuine effort to bring together research that wants to understand the experience of TRIPS and what it offers in terms of IPR policy as the world heads towards de-globalisation. Related contributions have gradually begun to appear in the IB literature (Journal of World Business, Transnational Corporations and Journal of International Business Policy). Relevant research has also appeared in other disciplines such as Journal of Law and Economics, Journal of Development Studies and Journal of Development Economics. They provide some stepping stones and research agendas for this special issue.
The Journal of International Business Policy (JIBP) aims to be a leader in publishing high quality research analyzing emerging public policy trends and their impact on international firms. Through this Special Issue call, JIBP aims specifically to champion research analyzing the contribution of IP harmonization to processes of technology transfer, policy making, capability building and challenges to governance. This special issue is intended to be a first – but certainly not last - focal point triggering IB scholarly attention to this area. For that reason, this special issue will also be accompanied by a Paper Development Workshop in December 2019.
The following is an indicative (but not exhaustive) list of topics to guide potential authors:
- The effect of IPR policies on technology-related trade and investment
- Home- and host-country IPR policy effects on technology trade and choice of partners, before and after TRIPS
- How the spread of global value chains (GVCs) and countries’ and firms’ integration into GVCs affects national IP strategy
- How TRIPS has affected the internationalization and “off-shoring” of research and development
2. Domestic and foreign firms and the political economy of IPR policies
- MNE influence on regional and/or global IP harmonization.
- MNE lobbying strategies to change IPR policies in host and home countries.
- The internationalization of trademarks
- Case studies of national politics around joining the Patent Cooperation Treaty
3. IPR policies: Trends and effects at the country level
- Home- and host-country IPR regulatory effects on domestic technological capability and economic development
- Home- and host-country IPR policy effects on inward and outward FDI
- IPR and patenting patterns in home- and host-countries
- The emergence of competition and antitrust institutions as important actors in countries and sectors where patenting is new
- Understanding the changing demands for stronger IP rules by local actors in industries where imitation and reverse-engineering are difficult
4. IP implementation and its effect on economic outcomes
- Understanding the differences between de jure and de facto levels of IP protection and the effect of divergence on technology investment and trade
- How TRIPS has affected the role of technology transfer offices in public (and private) universities and research institutions
- IP infringement and its effect on MNE investment and domestic inventiveness
- Effectiveness of new IPR regimes (patent pooling) for solving the technology needs of global challenges
- New forms of property right protection (in the digital age); open models for patents
We welcome extended proposals from research in all relevant scientific fields (researchers in IB, economics, political science, sociology, law, geography, innovation, development studies, public policy, and international relations) and especially welcome proposals bridging various scientific disciplines. A paper can be aimed at theory development, but can also be empirical (aimed at collecting and interpreting larger data samples or specific case studies). To give us a wider choice of papers, our call is for extended proposals which should be submitted to the Editors by 15 December 2018. Selected proposals will be expected to submit full papers by 15 July 2019.
Special Issue Proposals
Proposals should be written in English and not exceed a total of seven (7) pages and 4000 words – five (5) pages for the body which can include charts, graphs, diagrams, and up to two (2) pages of references. The 4000-word count includes all text in the charts, graphs, diagrams, and references.
Only electronic submissions of proposal(s) will be accepted, submitted via the Manuscript Central portal for JIBP: https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/jibp. A maximum of two (2) proposals, either as an author or a co-author, may be submitted.
We seek original, unpublished work to move the scholarly conversation on TRIPS forward. Proposals may be rooted in or derived from prior work, but the submitted proposal must reflect significant development. Any proposal submitted that is judged to be identical or substantially similar to work already published, presented or under review for another conference or publication, will not be considered for invitation to develop a full manuscript.
Proposals are easiest to handle if submitted in PDF format. MS Word (or equivalent) will also be accepted. The title should be listed in the header of each page. Please use single spacing and 10-point font or larger. All proposals received by the deadline date (December 15, 2018) are deemed as original and final.
Proposals are reviewed by the special issue editors, so they are not anonymous. Proposals should include name and institutional affiliation of all authors. Authors who submit full manuscripts can expect a standard double-blind peer review process after submission.
Timeline from Proposal to Publication
- December 15, 2018: Deadline for submission of extended proposals
- January 20, 2019: Notification of acceptance or rejection of proposals for development as full manuscripts for submission
- June 24-27, 2019 (AIB 2019 Copenhagen): Editors participate in a panel that highlights the current JIBP special issues
- July 15, 2019: Deadline for submission of full papers via Manuscript Central portal for JIBP (https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/jibp)
- September 15, 2019: First round of double-blind peer review of submitted papers concluded
- December 2019: Revised papers to be presented at a Paper Development Workshop
- Jan 15, 2020: Editorial notification of conditional acceptance or rejection for inclusion in the JIBP special issue
- March 1, 2020: Final manuscripts submitted for the special issue
- June 2020: Special issue publication
Archibugi D., Filippetti A. (2010), The Globalisation of Intellectual Property Rights: Four Learned Lessons and Four Theses, Global Policy, 1(2): 137- 149. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1758-5899.2010.00019.x
Awad, B. (2015), Global Patent Pledges A Collaborative Mechanism For Climate Change Technology, CIGI papers #81, Canada. [ last accessed 04/08/2018 from https://www.cigionline.org/sites/default/files/no.81.pdf]
Albert G.Z. Hu, Peng Zhang , Lijing Zhao (2017) China as number one? Evidence from China's most recent patenting surge, Journal of Development Economics, 124, 107–119.
Deere, C. (2008) The Implementation Game: The TRIPS Agreement and the Global Politics of Intellectual Property Reform in Developing Countries. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Ivus, O., Park, W.G. & Saggi, K. (2017), Patent protection and the composition of multinational activity: Evidence from US multinational firms, Journal of International Business Studies, 48(7): 808-836.
Kremer, M., & Glennerster, R. (2004). Strong Medicine - Creating incentives for pharmaceutical research on neglected diseases. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Li, Xibao (2012). Behind the recent surge of Chinese patenting: An institutional view, Research Policy 41 236–249.
Maskus, K. E. (2000) Intellectual Property Rights in the Global Economy. Washington, DC: Institute for International Economics.
Maskus, K. E. and Reichman, J. H. (2005) International Public Goods and Transfer of Technology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Matthews, D (2002) Globalising Intellectual Property Rights: The TRIPS Agreement. Routledge.
May, C. and Sell, S. (2006) Intellectual Property Rights: A Critical History. London: Lynne Rienner.
Peng, M. W. (2013). An institution-based view of IPR protection. Business Horizons, 56: 135–139.
Peng, M. W., Ahlstrom, D., Carraher, S. M., & Shi, W. (2017a). History and the debate over intellectual property. Management and Organization Review, 13(1): 15-38.
Peng, M. W., Ahlstrom, D., Carraher, S. M., & Shi, W. (2017b). An institution-based view of global IPR history, Journal of International Business Studies, 48(7): 893-907.
Ryan, M. R. (1998) Knowledge Diplomacy: Global Competition and the Politics of Intellectual Property. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.
Sell, S. K. (2003) Private Power, Public Law: The Globalization of Intellectual Property Rights. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Shadlen, K.C (2017) Coalitions and Compliance: The Political Economy of Pharmaceutical Patents in Latin America. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
WIPO (2011) Medicines Patent Pool: Facilitating Access to HIV Treatment. Wipo magazine ( last accessed 04/08/18 from http://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2011/03/article_0005.html