Examining Intellectual Property Rights Innovation and Technology within the Caricom Single Market and Economy.
By Abiola Inniss Ph.D. LLM
Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) firms operate under various laws and policies on intellectual property rights (IPRs), innovation and technology. International analyses and rankings rate the CSME countries’ performance as poor in comparison with others at the same level of economic development. This results in negative impacts on the economic and social welfare of their communities. A paucity of data existed concerning the effects of policies on decisions by local firms to engage in innovation and technology activities. The purpose of this qualitative exploratory-explanatory case study was to examine the effects of policies on IPRs, innovation, and technology on firms in select CSME countries. The questions addressed how IPRs policies affect the choices of innovation activities by firms, and what differences in IPRs policies in the sample countries Guyana, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, influence the decisions by firms to invest in innovation and technologies. Landes and Posner’s utilitarian exposition that IPRs should be based on the maximization of social welfare provided the theoretical framework for the study. Various policy papers, firm studies, study reports, and legislation from government and international agencies were analyzed using four levels of inductive coding. Findings included a lack of clear IPRs policies, high levels of innovation where policies were weakest, and a general reluctance by firms in the countries to invest in innovation and technology. Further study of the sociological and cultural aspects of IPRs policies, and how they affect innovation in CSME is recommended. This study can help effect social change in the CSME by informing policies that maximize social welfare through innovation and technology.