The Need for a Pluralist Approach to the Link between Intellectual Property and Development: A Pacific Island Case Study

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    Abstract

    In late 2015 I completed a four-year research project examining the relationship between intellectual property and development in Pacific Island countries.1 In this article I discuss some of the main findings and their broader relevance for questions of intellectual property and development. The main finding, which then informed the entire project, was that intellectual property regulation is by no means a new concept in Pacific Island countries. Indeed, this region has always been a knowledge economy, where intangible valuables (such as knowledge (sacred and profane), innovations, designs, stories, names and creative expressions) are intertwined with power and value. As a result, there are regulatory frameworks around intangible valuables that impact directly on the practices of knowledge sharing, transmission, creativity and innovation. This context is central for understanding and theorising the introduction and entrenchment of the global intellectual property system, by which I mean the collection of treaties brought together by the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights 1994 (TRIPS) and subsequently expanded through a range of multilateral and bilateral treaties. The transplanting of the global system into this region—in many cases very recently—has led to a rapid hybridising both of practice and understanding of intellectual property regulation. A further important contextual factor is the ongoing processes of development in the region and their contingency with neoliberalism and capitalism.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)123-133
    JournalWIPO Journal: (World Intellectual Property Organization)
    Volume8
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

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