Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Bruce Lehman says TRIPS was a mistake

Bruce Lehman who was President Clinton's IP chief and one of the prime movers behind the international agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, TRIPS, now says TRIPS was a mistake, according to Ian Brown.

"Lehman now believes TRIPS has been a failure for the United States, because the WTO agreement in which it is included opened US markets to overseas manufactured goods and destroyed the US manufacturing industry. He feels that the US has kept its part of the TRIPS bargain, but that with 90% piracy in China, higher-end developing nations have not. In retrospect, he feels the US should instead have introduced labour and environmental standards into the WTO agreement so that jobs would not be lost in the US manufacturing sector to countries with few environmental standards and weak unions..."

Er does he mean the US chose the wrong tools to bias international trade in favour of the US?

"Mr Lehman also feels that were there to be a penicillin-resistant anthrax outbreak in the US, a compulsory licence would be issued for Cipro like a shot were Bayer unable to meet demand. Shame that the EU has waived its right to use such compulsory licences even in public health emergencies."

He's probably right that the US government would step in with such a compulsory licence. I suspect EU governments would attempt to do likewise and then express amazement when they found themselves tied up in legal red tape of their own making.

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