Do Patents Promote or Impede Innovative Activity?

Green College Society Lecture Series: Interdisciplinarity in Action

Professor Nancy Gallini, Vancouver School of Economics, UBC
Coach House, Green College, UBC
Tuesday, October 29, 5-6:30 pm, with reception to follow

Intellectual property protection has changed dramatically in recent decades. In many industrialized countries, the domain of patents has expanded to include modified genetic material, software and business methods. Patents have become both stronger and more fragmented, increasing the cost of innovating. Innovators must either pay stacking royalties on a multitude of patents related to their discoveries or face the threat of aggressive legal battles. These changes and their effects have been of worldwide importance, especially following the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIP) agreement imposing minimum standards for patent protection on the part of all WTO member countries. The talk will lay the ground for a discussion of these developments. Have they enhanced or discouraged incentives to innovate? What impact have the changes had on prices and access to essential medicines in the developing world?  Is there a need for further patent reform?