It is widely recognized that the objectives and means by which intellectual property regulations are established will determine, in part, whether poor countries are able to close existing knowledge, technology, and healthcare gaps in a manner consistent with the Millennium Development Goals.
In the years since the WTO's Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) introduced intellectual property rules into the multilateral trading system, dissatisfaction in both the scientific community and in the developing world with the current Intellectual Property Regime (IPR) has grown. In the decades since the Uruguay Round concluded, the poorest people of the world have been denied access to life saving drugs, corporations from the advanced industrial countries have attempted to patent native medicines and plants, and the scientific community has complained that IPR impedes the progress of science.
In 2004, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) took a major step forward in addressing these issues when it adopted a Brazilian and Argentinean proposal for a development agenda. This proposal recognized that intellectual property is not an end in itself and reiterated WIPO's mission to “promote creative intellectual activity” and “the transfer of technology to developing countries.”
There is a real need to create an academic and non-ideological discussion and literature on IPR so that participants in the global debate can proceed with the best possible information. IPD has established the Intellectual Property Task Force to fill this space and to help inform the international community in what is already a contentious and enormously important dialogue.