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Why patents are crucial for the access of developing countries to Environmentally Sound Technologies

Michael Benske

elni Review 2009, Issue 2,  pp. 88-92.

This article demonstrates why Global Climate Funds might establish unexpected barriers to transfers of Environmentally Sound Technologies (EST) to developing countries rather than facilitating them. During political dialogues, developing countries frequently stress their discontent regarding Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protecting EST. A typical objection raised by the Group of 771 and China reads: “The present restraint on access to advanced technologies, imposed particularly by the IPR regime, need [sic] to be lifted, […].” The Group of 77 and China expect developed countries to facilitate technology transfers and to provide other assistance by various financial and regulatory means. The proposed measures include a Global Climate Fund. At first, this article identifies the relevant actors’ interests and, to demonstrate that inter-governmental measures for tackling the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) problem are justified, carry out an analysis according to the behavioural model of the homo oeconomicus institutionalis. After that, it examines the role of IPR in the context of transfers of EST to developing countries. This article also deals with the question of what the overall objectives of technology transfer measures are and why the proposed Global Climate Fund might not be an adequate instrument for facilitating these transfers.

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