According to the World Trade Organization, intellectual property rights are "rights given to persons over the creations of their minds. They usually give the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation for a certain period of time." The rationale behind intellectual property rights is to offer a quid pro quo, between creators and the public, intended to spur innovation. Inventors gain exclusivity (and an opportunity for profits) in exchange for publicly disclosing details about their creations. The public gains free access to information - information that can then be used to support further innovation. Innovation is seen as an inherent good in this context, as it can lead to the development of things people need (e.g., treatments for disease, green energy technologies or a better mousetrap). Exclusive rights to intellectual property are managed via patents and licenses, with patenting being primarily regulated at the national level. Intellectual property rights are the dominant mechanism used in innovation policy, particularly in science. However, myriad modifications and alternatives to intellectual property rights have been proposed and utilized, including patent pooling, intellectual property exchanges and clearing houses, innovation prizes and open-source licenses. The challenges related to competing models of innovation policy present in a fairly consistent manner across most fields of science. However, this paper will focus exclusively on intellectual property rights and models of innovation policy in the context of stem cell science. It is not that the issues themselves are unique in this context, but rather that there are a series of factors that make a discussion of intellectual property rights and models of innovation policy particularly important in the context of stem cell science.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biomedical Engineering