William A. Kerr, Jill E. Hobbs, and Revadee Yampoin
University of Saskatchewan, Canada; University of Saskatchewan, Canada; and Kasetsart University, Thailand
The international protection of intellectual property has been a contentious issue between developed and developing countries. Protection of intellectual property rights in agricultural biotechnology is the latest manifestation of the dispute with both developed and developing countries accusing each other of bio-piracy. The Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPs) was only grudgingly agreed to by developing countries at the Uruguay Round of WTO negotiations. The WTO allows trade retaliation to be used for violations of TRIPs commitments. The paper investigates the likely efficacy of trade measures in encouraging countries to live up to their TRIPs commitments. The results suggest that developed countries will not receive the protection they desire and, hence, there may be a mutual interest in re-opening negotiations related to patenting genetic material.
Key words: Bio-piracy; biotechnology; intellectual property; trade measures; TRIPs; WTO.