Essay: Global Trade

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Globalization and Intellectual Property Rights

The issue of preserving intellectual property has long been a morass of legal and philosophical entanglements for both the originators and the consumers of media and information. In the current free trade context driving the future development of global relations, this issue takes particular precedence as we struggle today to find balanced ways to compensate corporations, artists, entertainers and the portals through which they are delivered to us. Piracy, a term used throughout history to describe all manner of counterfeiting and marketing of ill-gotten or illegal contraband, today almost automatically conjures up thoughts of 'file sharing' on the internet. This new frontier for the exchange of intellectual properties has evolved into an abyss of piracy forums and file-sharing operations, as well as into a host of legal pacts that have a determinant impact on global economic relations. These conditions feed into a discussion on globalization and intellectual property, driving the examination here regarding the way that the former has significantly altered our understanding of the latter.

Complex Global Transformations:

Among the most challenging global transformations has been that relating to the protection, distribution and compensation associated with the conveyance of intellectual property. The correlation between the proliferation of online and mobile communications technologies and the deconstruction of sovereign trade barriers has helped in one respect to fuel ever greater opportunities for commercial exchange. But this same correlation has made information, data and media that much more accessible and, consequently, that much easier to replicate, distribute and consume without compensation for its originator. What makes this issue most particularly complex is that is highlights a distinct philosophical divergence between the developed and developing spheres. There is a decided difference, for instance, between how Canada and the United States treat the protection of intellectual property and how that same property is treated in contexts such as China, the Middle East or Southeast Asia.

As our technology and borders begin to suggest a free-flow of information and ideas, developed nations such as Canada and the U.S. have scrambled to find ways of protecting the path to compensation for the owners of intellectual property. Simultaneously, nations in the developing sphere have attempted to use this new access to consume the same pharmaceutical patents, films and musical recordings (to name a few intellectual properties) that are enjoyed in the West. Herein, we can see the impasse the drives the present discussion.

Theme:

The central theme of this discussion revolves on the steps taken by members of the developing sphere to impose protections against the exploitation of intellectual property. Specifically, in discussion a case such as Canada, we understand that there is a clear cut dividing line on how different culture's perceive the concept of intellectual property. By no coincidence, those cultures where the greatest wealth of intellectual property originates are the same developed economies that thrive on the profitability of these properties. Thus, defense against copyright infringement and counterfeiting has become an important dimension of each developing nation's globalization strategy.

So denote the efforts of the CSA group, a member of the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network (CACN). According to the text by Toderian (2013), the CSA "works in cooperation with other stakeholders to bring the issue of the dangers posed by counterfeits to the attention of government, the legal community, law enforcement and the Canadian public in order to raise awareness and enact positive changes. It has worked proactively through the association to promote awareness with Members of Parliament to help increase legislative enforcement of counterfeiting and intellectual property crimes and has previously presented to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology." (Toderian, p. 1)

The article highlights just how central a theme this has become for the governing authority of a number of developing nations. In this case, legislation has been proposed that would ratchet up efforts to detect and prevent the import or export of counterfeit goods across Canada's borders. It also underscores the key theme of this discussion, which is the sharp divergence of perspectives on this matter that have been revealed by globalization. While many participants in the global market from the developing sphere perceive intellectual property restrictions as being driven largely by Western profit-lust, the reality demonstrated here is that intellectual property protections can be an important line of protection for the public safety as well. According to Toderian, the efforts and improving certification review in Canada are prompted by the importance of consumer protection in addition to the protection of intellectual property originators. Accordingly, Toderian, reports that "in Canada, all electrical and gas products must be certified and marked in order to be sold legally. Counterfeiters know that in order to fool consumers into thinking products are certified, they must fake not only a brand name but also a certification mark. Because the fakes are not certified, they may not contain required safety features or use toxic materials, putting consumers at risk of injury or death." (Toderian, p. 1)

Two Articles:

There are a number of articles in circulation today that help to highlight the core issues that make this discourse so complex. For instance, the argument posited by Nayyer (2002) is that the general thrust must be toward a continued strengthening of intellectual property laws. Nayyer makes the assertion that a great deal of complexity must be overcome first, but that the general push today is toward a global policy that improves rather than erodes the protections for intellectual property. This comports with the notion that the interests of public safety and economic growth are paired. However, the article proceeds with a clear recognition of the ideological difficulties in pursuing this global shift. Nayyer notes in quoting one critic on the subject, "one of the biggest mistakes one can make when considering the globalization of intellectual property law is to assume away the increasingly contentious politics of the phenomenon. This is not to say that the emerging politics of international intellectual property law are simple, easy to understand, or unchanging - quite the contrary is true. However, we should resist the understandable tendency to reach for a quick, technocratic set of Procrustean tools that assume away the 'messiness of the world' and make it seem that concepts such as 'sovereignty' and 'property' should be, are, or always have been, particularly stable constructs." (Nayyer, p. 1)

The essential 'messiness' to which Nayyer refers is essentially the significant gap between developed and developing sphere, not just in their approach to intellectual property, but even in their possession on the political and economic structures to support intellectual property protections. In a sense, the article by Archibugi & Filipetti (2010) echo this assertion, that the global community is moving toward a greater acceptance and employment of intellectual property protections. The article takes the same position that this is the ultimate goal that must eventually align our collective global values on the subject. However, by contrast to the more conceptually driven article by Nayyer, Archibugi & Filipetti argue that in fact the greatest force driving the advancement of intellectual property protections is the global legislation serving as an umbrella policy for the world community. With the World Trade Organization (WTO) sponsored Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the article argues that we have a powerful instrument in ultimately bringing the world to a coalescence on global property issues.

The article also points out that under these terms, it is incumbent upon those members of the developing sphere to take steps toward understanding and aligning with the policies and values of their developed sphere counterparts. As the text advises, "in order to catch up, developing countries should put specific policies in place to nurture their absorptive capacity through the creation of appropriate infrastructure and human resources. Competence building is not hampered by Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs). Developing countries should concentrate on active learning policies to acquire the knowledge of the most industrialized nations." (p. 137)

Point of Contention:

In spite of these strong assertions above, dictating the responsibility of the developing sphere to adjust to global intellectual property rights, the challenges to achieving this remain considerable. As we have noted in the discussion on the primary themes at play in this discussion, there is a considerable philosophical difference between the developed and developing sphere on this question. One of the major reasons is the scale of the various economies that now interact across global lines. There is a clear proclivity toward stronger intellectual property protections as a nation's economy becomes larger and more stable. This denotes that for many nations in the developing sphere, achievement of strong intellectual property protections is seen as a major obstacle to the proliferation of affordable consumer goods. Indeed, some in the developing sphere would even argue that there is an inherently democratic impulse to proliferating affordable counterfeited materials to populations that can't access or afford the real thing. This is the major point of contention that drives any discussion on the present subject, with globalization bringing us… [END OF PREVIEW]

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