intellectual property theft by developing countries

Dean Baker has posted a blog that nicely complements yesterday’s TdJ on “the rise of China“.

[I]t was largely the United States that has set the rules in this story and it is demanding ever more money for items protected by its patent and copyright monopolies. We do this through our control of trade arrangements, most importantly the WTO …. These rules were about forcing developing countries to pay more money to companies like Pfizer and Microsoft for everything from drugs and medical equipment to seeds and software. ….

The idea that developing countries would seek to get around rules established by their richer counterparts should not be alien to people in the United States. The United Kingdom had made it illegal to transfer blueprints for steam engines out of the country in order to preserve its competitive advantage. Francis Lowell famously memorized plans on a trip there in order to build the first steam-powered factory in the United States. The United States refused to recognize UK copyrights for much of the 19th century. So if China is not following the rules today, it has an important role model it can point to.

Dean Baker, “Disagreeing With Krugman: Is China Stealing Knowledge?“, Beat the Press, 6 April 2018.

Dean Baker (born 1958) is an American economist who in 1999 co-founded, with Mark Weisbrot, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), a left-leaning think tank in Washington, D.C. He typically agrees with Paul Krugman, but in this blog criticizes Krugman’s description of China as a “bad actor in the global economy” because the country does not pay for all the foreign technology it uses.

Thanks to Warren McGillivray for the tip.

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