Aciertos y errores de los derechos de propiedad intelectual

En octubre pasado, la Asamblea General de la Organización Mundial de Propiedad Intelectual (WIPO) decidió abordar cómo podría ser la forma futura de un régimen de propiedad intelectual orientado al desarrollo. Este paso tuvo poca cobertura en la prensa, pero en cierta medida es tan importante como la decisión de la Organización Mundial de Comercio de que la actual ronda de negociaciones comerciales se enfoque al tema del desarrollo. Ambas decisiones reconocen que las actuales reglas del juego económico internacional reflejan los intereses de los países industriales avanzados, especialmente los de sus grandes corporaciones, más que los intereses del mundo en desarrollo.

Sin protección de la propiedad intelectual, puede ocurrir que se debiliten los incentivos para participar en ciertos tipos de iniciativas creativas. Sin embargo, la propiedad intelectual también puede tener costos bastante altos. Las ideas son la materia prima más importante para la investigación, y si la propiedad intelectual reduce la capacidad de usar las ideas de los demás, se verá afectado el progreso científico y tecnológico. 

De hecho, muchas de las ideas más importantes (por ejemplo, la matemática subyacente a las computadoras modernas o las teorías tras la energía atómica o los rayos láser) no están protegidas por la propiedad intelectual. Los académicos dedican un considerable esfuerzo a diseminar gratuitamente los hallazgos de sus investigaciones. Me siento complacido cuando alguien usa mis ideas sobre la información asimétrica, y también aprecio que me den algo de crédito por ellas. El crecimiento del movimiento de "código abierto" en la Internet demuestra que no sólo las ideas más básicas, sino incluso productos de enorme valor comercial inmediato se pueden producir sin que medie la protección de la propiedad intelectual.

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