[Discussioni] "Time has come"...

Giovanni maverick1818 a libero.it
Mer 27 Set 2006 18:49:45 CEST

Come mi ha fatto notare Mimmo in privato, quando ho parlato di /"innata"
e spesso latente avversione alla proprietà intellettuale/ ho usato,
anche se virgolettato, un termine errato ed ambiguo: al posto di
"innata", avrei fatto meglio a dire "istintiva".

Ora, anche se l'articolo è del 16/09, vedo che Stiglitz parla di "a
growing sentiment that something is wrong with the system governing
intellectual property". Mi fa piacere, forse qualcosa si muove anche
nelle stanze del potere: si vede che molte aziende minori vengono
strangolate dal pizzo sul sapere imposto dalle corporation.

C'è anche ciò di cui si parlava, la privatizzazione del PD.
Non condivido tutto, ma è un buon inizio.
Chiedo scusa a chi non comprende l'inglese.


Joseph Stiglitz - Innovation: A better way than patents
 from issue 2569 of New Scientist magazine, 16 September 2006, page 20

Innovation is at the heart of the success of a modern economy. The
question is how best to promote it. The developed world has carefully
crafted laws which give innovators an exclusive right to their
innovations and the profits that flow from them.

But at what price? There is a growing sentiment that something is wrong
with the system governing intellectual property (IP). The fear is that a
focus on profits for rich corporations amounts to a death sentence for
the very poor in the developing world. So are there better ways of
promoting innovation?

Intellectual property is different from other property rights, which are
designed to promote the efficient use of economic resources. Patents
give the grantee exclusive rights to an innovation - a monopoly - and
the profits this generates provide an incentive to innovate. Recent
years have seen a strengthening of IP rights: for instance, the scope of
what can be patented has been expanded, and developing countries have
been forced to enact and enforce IP laws. The changes have been promoted
especially by the pharmaceutical and entertainment industries, and by
some in the software industry who argue that the changes will enhance

Monopolies can lead to higher prices and lower output, and the costs can
be especially high when monopoly power is abused, as courts around the
world have found in the case of Microsoft. What's more, the hoped-for
benefit of enhanced innovation does not always materialise.

Why is this? First, the most important input into research is knowledge,
and IP sometimes makes this less accessible. This is especially true
when patents take what was previously in the public domain and
"privatise" it - what IP lawyers have called the new "enclosure
movement". The patents granted on Basmati rice (which Indians had
thought they had known about for hundreds of years) and on the healing
properties of turmeric are good examples.

Second, conflicting patent claims make profitable innovation more
difficult. Indeed, a century ago, a conflict over patents between the
Wright brothers and rival aviation pioneer Glenn Curtis so stifled the
development of the airplane that the US government had to step in to
resolve the issue.

The developing world has other complaints against the IP system imposed
as part of an international deal that has become known as the 1994
Uruguay Round trade agreement. Developing countries are poorer not only
because they have fewer resources, but because there is a gap in
knowledge. That is why access to knowledge is so important. But by
strengthening the developed world's stranglehold over intellectual
property, the IP provisions (called TRIPS) of the Uruguay agreement
reduced access to knowledge for developing countries. TRIPS imposed a
system that was not optimally designed for an advanced industrial
country, but was even more poorly suited to a poor country. I was on
President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers at the time the Uruguay
Round was completed. We and the Office of Science and Technology Policy
opposed TRIPS. We thought it was bad for American science, bad for world
science, bad for the developing countries.

In the case of pharmaceuticals, the costs of our IP system go beyond
money. The global intellectual property regime denies access to
affordable lifesaving drugs, even as the AIDS epidemic lays waste to so
much of the developing world. Despite the billions drug companies earn
in profits, they spend next to nothing looking for cures and vaccines
for the diseases of the poor. They spend far more on advertising than on
research and far more on researching lifestyle drugs than on lifesaving
ones. The reason is obvious: the poor cannot afford to pay much for
drugs. For those concerned about health in developing countries, the
intellectual property regime has not worked.

"The global intellectual property regime denies poor people access to
lifesaving drugs"
Patents are not the only way of stimulating innovation.
A prize fund for medical research would be one alternative. Paid for by
industrialised nations, it would provide large prizes for cures and
vaccines for diseases such as AIDS and malaria that affect millions of
people. Me-too drugs that do no better than existing ones would get a
small prize at best. The medicines could then be provided at cost.

In any system, someone has to pay for research. In the current system,
those unfortunate enough to have the disease are forced to pay the
price, whether they are rich or poor. And that means the very poor in
the developing world are condemned to death.

The alternative of awarding prizes would be more efficient and more
equitable. It would provide strong incentives for research but without
the inefficiencies associated with monopolisation. This is not a new
idea - in the UK, for instance, the Royal Society of Arts has long
advocated the use of prizes. It is, perhaps, an idea whose time has come.



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