Patents, Brain Drain and Higher Education:
International Barriers to the Diffusion of Knowledge, Information and Technology**
Empirical information on the transfer of technologies to the Third World in general and India in particular is readily accessible and it is not the idea of this paper to summarise or review that literature here. Similarly, issues current in the area of Patent Laws viz. Trade-Related-Intellectual-Property rights (TRIPs), Trade-Related-Invest-ment-Measures (TRIMs), Trade-in-Services etc. have become well-known, particularly in the wake of the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations which is to be concluded by the end of this year.1 Instead, what this paper attempts is to examine: (a) the likeness between the Patent Laws under the proposed TRIPs system and the Immigration Laws that control what is called the Brain Drainóboth pertaining to unequal exchange between the developed and the developing countries, and (b) the fact that the two add to each other as far as their implications for the growth and diffusion of scientific knowledge, information and technology in the Third World is concerned. In other words, what is attempted here is to highlight, within the political economy construct of international economic relations between the Third World and the Developed World, a distinct second source of inequality other than patent laws which is still significantly related to it. Migration of human resources from developing to developed countries is this second source, and it may be argued that it is related to the question of intellectual property rights inherent in patent laws by the fact that in brain drain one is concerned mainly with the movement of that human resource which is capable of generating a body of knowledge that needs to be protected by such rights. Considering human resources to be the prime input in the production of knowledge that forms the very basis of developments in science, technology and information, if the existing world patent law system is visualised as a possible instrument to strengthen the hands of the developed countries vying to capture and monopolise the knowledge that is produced, the
* Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University.
** An earlier version of the paper was presented at the "Third-World Patent Convention' organised by the National Working Group on Patent Laws at New Delhi, March 15-16, 1990.
Social Scientist, Vol. 18, No. 5, May 1990