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Rising Economies in the International Patent Regime: From Rule-breakers to Rule-changers and Rule-makers

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Rising economies face a crucial dilemma when establishing their position on international patent law. Should they translate their increasing economic strength into political power to further developing countries’ interests in lower levels of international patent protection? Or, anticipating a rising domestic interest in stronger international patent protection, should they adopt a position that favours maximal patent protection? Drawing on multiple case studies using a most-similar system design, we argue that rising economies, after having been coerced into adopting more stringent patent standards, tend to display ambivalent positions, trapped in bureaucratic politics and caught between conflicting domestic constituencies. We find that the recent proliferation of international institutions and the expansion of transnational networks have contributed to fragmentation and polarisation in domestic patent politics. As a result, today’s emerging economies experience a more tortuous transformative process than did yesterday’s. This finding is of particular relevance for scholars studying rising powers, as well as for those working on policy diffusion, regulatory regimes, transnational networks and regime complexes.
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Keywords: Emerging countries; intellectual property; patent; policy diffusion; regime complex; transnational network

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Political Science, Laval University, Quebec, Canada 2: Global Studies Institute, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland 3: Faculty of Law, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland 4: Department of Communication and Multimedia, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada

Publication date: May 4, 2018

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