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US patent policy as a beggar-thy-neighbour policy

Dolling, Helen (2011) US patent policy as a beggar-thy-neighbour policy. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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The United States of America (US) has founded its patent policy on the basis that stronger patent protection engenders more innovation (US Patent Principle). The US Patent Principle overemphasises private rights at the expense of social benefit. Patent systems are intended to promote innovation and the public interest. However, the expansion of the US Patent Principle and US patent policy has had a negative effect on global innovation and development.

The US Patent Principle contradicts the principles of trade liberalisation. Trade liberalisation has been a central feature of international trade and law since the end of World War Two (WWII), largely due to the influence ofthe US, which has been the main advocate of trade liberalisation principles. The trade liberalisation doctrines condemn policies that encompass "beggar-thy-neighbour" protectionist policies, because of the detrimental effects such policies had on the global economy between the end of World War I (WWI) and WWII. A beggar-thy-neighbour policy is an economic strategy adopted by one country to enhance domestic welfare which can only be realised at the expense of other countries.

This article discusses the beggar-thy-neighbour effect of US patent policy domestically and international. In general the US domestic patent regime is effectively a beggar-thy-neighbour policy, because it benefits domestic inventors and large US multinational corporations at the expense of other foreign inventors. The US-led harmonisation of global patent law is also a beggar-thy-neighbour policy, in that at the expense of the developing nations it principally enhances the welfare of the profits of large multinational corporations, most of which are headquartered in the U.S.

Publication Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Law
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