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Intellectual Property and Late Development

Former Research Fellow Kenneth Shadlen directed GDAE’s research on intellectual property (IP). This project studies the economic integration and the political economy of emerging IP regimes in Latin America and beyond, with a focus on Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico.

Shadlen, one of the first to carry out in-depth research on the politics of IP within developing countries, examines the processes by which each country introduced new IP systems in the 1990s (in compliance with new international rules, such as the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights), how countries subsequently reformed their new IP systems in the late 1990s and early 2000s to address concerns over the price of patented medicines, and how IP systems underwent further modification in the early 2000s as countries sought to use IP to bolster their national systems of scientific and industrial innovation.

GDAE's work in this area focuses on three related projects:

  • Knowledge Gaps, Knowledge Traps: The New Politics of Patents in Development: This research examines the policy space for promoting public health, facilitating local firms’ access
    to advanced technologies, and encouraging local innovative capacities, with a focus on Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico. This work formed the foundations for Shadlen's 2017 book "Coalitions and Compliance The Political Economy of Pharmaceutical Patents in Latin America."

  • Working Group on IP, Health, and Industrial Policy: Building on
    GDAE’s previous projects with the Working Group on Development and Environment in the Americas, this group of Latin American experts will examine the different ways that health policies can affect – and be positively affected by – policies designed to stimulate industrial upgrading. The research will focus on patent examination, government procurement, and the activities of health surveillance agencies.

  • TRIPS and the Transformation of the Global Generic Pharmaceutical Industry: Ambitious plans announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the G8 countries for scaling-up treatment of people with HIV/AIDS in the developing world will lead to unprecedented demand for affordable anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs). New global rules on IP now require all but the poorest and leastdeveloped countries to offer patents on pharmaceuticals. What does this new international environment imply for the production and supply of generic ARVs? GDAE’s IP research analyses changes in national pharmaceutical sectors in Latin America and Asia, and the consequences of these changes for the production and supply of affordable ARVs.


Coalitions and Compliance The Political Economy of Pharmaceutical Patents in Latin AmericaCoalitions and Compliance The Political Economy of Pharmaceutical Patents in Latin America, Kenneth C. Shadlen, Oxford University Press, 2017

Politics of Intellectual PropertyPolitics of Intellectual Property: Contestation Over the Ownership, Use, and Control of Knowledge Information

Edited by Sebastian Haunss and Kenneth C. Shadlen
Contributors: L. Bretthauer, S. Francis, S. Haunss, R.J. Herring, M. Kandlikar, L. Kohlmorgen, G. Krikorian, H.V.J. Moir, I. Schneider, K.C. Shadlen, S. Thambisetty

Political Economy of Hemispheric Integration

The Political Economy of Hemispheric Integration: Responding to Globalization in the Americas

Edited by Diego Sánchez-Ancochea and Kenneth C. Shadlen, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Articles and Reports:

Challenges to India's Pharmaceutical Patent Laws, by Kenneth C. Shadlen, Science, July 27, 2012

The Mexican Exception: Patents and Innovation Policy in a Non-conformist and Reluctant Middle Income Country, Kenneth C Shadlen, European Journal of Development Research 24, 300-318, April 2012.

"The Political Contradictions of Incremental Innovation: Lessons from Pharmaceutical Patent Examination in Brazil," by Kennth C. Shadlen, Politics and Society, June 2011.

Politics of Patents and Drugs in Brazil and Mexico: The Industrial Bases of Health Policies” By Kenneth Shadlen, Comparative Politics 42/1 (October 09), pp. 41-58.

“Reforming and Reinforcing the Revolution: The Post-TRIPS Politics of Patents in Latin America,” by Kenneth Shadlen, GDAE Working Paper No. 09-02, April 2009.

“Resources, Rules and International Political Economy: The Politics of Development in the WTO,” by Kenneth Shadlen, GDAE Working Paper No. 09-01, January 2009.

"Policy Space for Development in the WTO and Beyond: The Case of Intellectual Property Rights," by Kenneth Shadlen, GDAE Working Paper 05-06, November 2005.


The Global Development and Environment Institute’s Globalization and Sustainable Development Program examines the economic, social and environmental impacts of economic integration in developing countries, with a particular emphasis on the WTO and NAFTA's lessons for trade and development policy. The goal of the program is to identify policies and international agreements that foster sustainable development.

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