San Diego International Law Journal

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



The corporate-consumer power dynamic operating behind the international intellectual property regime has created a development model that perpetuates the hegemonic power of corporate elites and their governmental agents at the expense of developing nations. The inequity of the regime seems to be rooted in the paradoxical delegation of exclusive intellectual property rights to private corporate interests who dispense knowledge as a global public good. However, the inequality actually begins with the inception of knowledge itself and is the consequence of natural exclusivity over one’s own thoughts and creations, including how those ideas are conveyed to the public sphere. The freedom to pool individual ideas and resources into corporate structures, combined with the propagation of consumerism, has led to remarkable innovations, but it has also facilitated the concentration of corporate power and the projection of that power abroad. Propelled by this power dynamic, multinational corporations have successfully lobbied for the international restriction of knowledge as a global public good, thereby frustrating attempts to promote a more equitable development model. Nevertheless, an understanding of how the corporate-consumer dynamic operates can help advance potential solutions to address the inequities, while at the same time retaining the beneficial aspects of the regime. By fostering an enlightened global citizenship that is more consistent with public works projects, a new corporate ethic may begin to acknowledge sustainable development goals and embrace a more equitable distribution of global public goods over the long term.