Intellectual Property Rights and the Rights of the Poor

Concomitantly, such restrictions lead not only to a lack of access to research information in developing countries but also to a lack of motivation within these countries to further conduct research and development for the benefit of the local community and also of worldwide community. Ultimately, the body of human knowledge and development is restricted in this way.
This point has been made by a variety of experts in the field. Dugie Standeford1, for example, cites the statements of Professors Joseph Stiglitz and John Sulston2 in this regard. According to these academics, the current patent system is to be criticized for the way in which it restricts rather than disseminates information. Furthermore, it also stifles the development of science and innovation, particularly involving professionals and other great minds from developing countries.
Standeford distinguishes between physical property rights and IP regimes. Whereas physical property can be restricted in terms of benefits to others, an intangible phenomenon such as knowledge cannot be so restricted. IP regimes, however, attempts to do precisely this. Although some believe that IP regimes drive innovation by means of protecting the rights of the innovator, others hold that the pace of science is impeded by the danger of lawsuits as a result of any new innovations. Furthermore, the expense of building upon existing knowledge is simply not possible for some of the most worthy scientists residing in poorer countries. This leads to monopolies on bodies of knowledge, which puts it in the hands of the privileged few, while those who might truly benefit have no access or means to further the existing research. In addition, Standeford makes the point that private and social returns are not in accord in terms of IP regimes. This, for example, restricts the benefits that citizens may gain from research to the rich, whereas the poor are marginalized and restricted from benefits, particularly in the medical field. Standeford mentions the Human Genome Project3 in this regard.
In general, Standeford’s point is that the gap between the rich and the poor is widening on both the local and the global scale as a result of IP regimes.&nbsp. &nbsp.