Author: Keith E. Maskus, Stanford Calderwood Professor of Economics, University of Colorado
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Council on Foreign Relations Press
Council Special Report No. 19
The conversation on American competitiveness is often intertwined with the conversation on innovation.
The liberalization of trade and the increasing influence of emerging markets such as China and India have meant that U.S. innovation is now competing globally. This global competition has raised awareness and concerns not only that our trading partners are lax on patent enforcement, but also that our patent system may not be optimally suited to compete on the global economic stage.
In this Council Special Report, Keith E. Maskus offers a fair, thoughtful, and at times counterintuitive account of this issue. He recognizes the importance of patent protection for innovation but also warns against blind adherence to the mantra that more protection will necessarily produce more innovation. He highlights the numerous friction points in the patent system and recommends policy options to smooth them out and to keep our patent system competitive. While acknowledging concerns about patent infringement in emerging markets, he expresses deep skepticism of U.S. efforts to harmonize patent standards through trade negotiations. In its place, he proposes a grand bargain in which the developed world requires emerging markets to enforce patents in exchange for agreeing to relax efforts to tighten global patent standards.
Part of the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Series on American Competitiveness.
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Keith E. Maskus is Stanford Calderwood professor of economics at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is also a research fellow at the Institute for International Economics, a fellow at the Kiel Institute for World Economics, and an adjunct professor at the University of Adelaide. He was a lead economist in the Development Research Group at the World Bank from 2001 to 2002. He was a visiting senior economist at the U.S. Department of State from 1986 to 1987 and a visiting professor at the University of Bocconi in Milan in 2006. He serves also as a consultant for the World Bank, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the World Health Organization, and the World Intellectual Property Organization. His current research focuses on the international economic aspects of protecting intellectual property rights. He is the coeditor of International Public Goods and the Transfer of Technology under a Globalized Intellectual Property Regime (Cambridge University Press, 2005) and author of Intellectual Property Rights in the Global Economy (Institute for International Economics, 2000).