Mandala Of Indic Traditions
Review: Intellectual property rights and the Third World. Mashelkar,
R.A., 2001. Current Science 81 (8): 955.
by D.P. Agrawal
In this very important article, Mashelkar discusses the issues
of generation, protection and exploitation of intellectual property (IP), which
are vitally relevant to the Traditional Knowledge Systems in the Old World.
The new IP regimes will have wide ranging socio-economic, technological and
political impact. As per the obligations under the Trade-related Aspects of
Intellectual Property Systems (TRIPS), all the members of World Trade Organization
(WHO) are supposed to implement national systems of intellectual property rights
following an agreed set of minimum standards. However, there is an increasing
feeling that harmonization is demanded from those that are not equal, either
economically or institutionally. Mashelkar brings out the major concerns of
the Third World about such harmonization and the new challenge it faces in diverse
areas of intellectual property protection and makes some valuable suggestions.
The discussion includes the need for a fair play in technology transfer, creation
of 'favourable economics' of essential medicines from the point of view of the
Third World, protection of Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (an essentially
Indian initiative) and linking it to the International Patent Classification
System (IPC) through a Traditional Knowledge Resource Classification System.
It is an important conceptual step forward.
Mashelkar also deals with the challenge of bridging the divide between the
Third World and other developed nations, with special emphasis on intellectual
property information sharing, capacity building with creation of appropriate
physical and intellectual infrastructure and awareness building. It is argued
that the Third World should negotiate a new 'TRIPS plus' which means 'TRIPS
equity and ethics'.