Economic Development and Patents


The recent history seems to show that technology and knowledge are important factors for economic growth and development. Since the creation of the first mechanism to protect inventions in 15 th century, the patent system has evolved with a view to promote innovation and encouraging economic development. By offering exclusive rights for a limited period, an inventor may recover R&D costs and investments. It also promotes investment to commercialize and market new inventions so that the general public can enjoy the fruit of the innovation. Further, the system is designed to disseminate knowledge and information to the public through publication of patent applications and granted patents.

Many countries, in particular least developed countries, have only begun to address the challenges of setting up an appropriate patent system in place to reap economic and social benefits. The development of these countries' resources and infrastructure and their capacity to benefit from the rapid growth of intellectual property as a valuable economic asset in the world economy remain an urgent concern.

In view of the disparity in economic wealth between nations, does the patent system hamper development rather than promote it? How can both nations and individuals utilize the patent system and develop national intellectual property assets? In a recent past, a number of questions have been raised in respect of the potential effects of different degrees and forms of patent protection on various economic and social measures. Considering the differences among countries, there might be a need to question the assumption of applying the same patent standard to all. A national strategy may need to be effectively set up on the basis of a country's unique requirements and priorities. Addressing questions as to how the patent system can play an important role in fostering development and eradicating poverty will certainly contribute to a better understanding of the role of the patent system in the broader range of national development policy measures and to formulate a patent policy that meets the interests of each country.


Studies and Articles

Links on these pages, including those to studies commissioned for WIPO, do not imply the agreement of WIPO, its Member States or the International Bureau with the views expressed.

Date Source Title
February 2009 ICTSD The Global Debate on the Enforcement of intellectual Property Rights and Developing Countries [PDF]
2008 Light Years IP Distinctive values in African exports [PDF]
January 2008 OECD Technology Transfer and the Economic Implications of the Strengthening of Intellectual Property Rights in Developing Countries, OECD Trade Policy Working Papers, No. 62, TAD/TC/WP(2007)19/FINAL, Park, W. and D. C. Lippoldt [PDF]
January 2008 World Bank Technology Diffusion in the Developing World
2007 UNCTAD The Least Developed Countries Report: Knowledge, Technological Learning and Innovation for Development [PDF]
March 2006 ICTSD Intellectual Property and Economic Development: What Technical Assistance to Redress the Balance in Favor of Developing Nations [PDF]
2006 OECD Creating Value From Intellectual Assets
2006 UNCTAD-ICTSD Exceptions to Patent Rights in Developing Countries [PDF]

October 2005

USA for Innovation

The Economic Value of Intellectual Property, Dr. Robert Shapiro and Dr. Kevin Hassett

May 2005

European Union

Study on Evaluating the Knowledge Economy - What are Patents Actually Worth? -- The Value of Patents for Today's Economy and Society [PDF]

February 2005 World Bank Tightening TRIPS: The Recent Intellectual Property Provisions of Recent US Free Trade Agreements [PDF]
January 2005 World Bank Intellectual Property and Development: Lessons from Recent Research [PDF]
January 2005 United Nations Investing in Development: a Practical plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals
January 2005 United Nations UN Millennium Project Task Force on Science, Technology and Innovation "Innovation, Applying Knowledge in Development" [PDF]
2005 UNCTAD-ICTSD Resource Book on TRIPS and Development
November 2004 World Bank Global Economic Prospects 2005 [PDF]
September 2004 South Centre Establishing a "Development Agenda" for the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO): Commentary on Proposal by Argentina and Brazil
August 2004 Proposal to WIPO General Assembly WO/GA/31/12 - Proposal by Argentina and Brazil for the Establishment of a Development Agenda for WIPO
February 2004 World Bank Poor people's knowledge: promoting intellectual property in developing countries
February 2004 European Commission Innovation, Technological Specialisation and Economic Growth in the EU, Andre Jungmittag [PDF]
2004 ICTSD-UNCTAD-TIPS Regional Dialogue Intellectual Property Tools, Innovation and Commercialisation of R&D: Options to Assist Developing Countries in Positioning Themselves to Reap the Benefits of a Stronger Intellectual Property Regime, with Special Reference to the Role of Intellectual Property Management in Research Organizations, Rosemary Wolson [PDF]
August 2003 Studies presented to WIPO Assemblies Agenda for Development of the International Patent System: Studies on the Impact of the System on Developing Countries
2003 UNCTAD-ICTSD Intellectual Property Rights: Implications for Development, Policy Discussion Paper
September 2002 United Nations Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development
September 2002 Commission on IPRs Integrating Intellectual Property Rights and Development Policy
April 2001 Study commissioned by WIPO The Effects of TRIPS-Mandated Intellectual Property Rights on Economic Activities in Developing Countries, W. Lesser [PDF]
September 2000 United Nations United Nations Millennium Declaration [PDF]
May 2000 World Bank Trade, foreign direct investment, and international technology transfer: A Survey, Saggi K
  UNDP UNDP Human Development Reports


Related Sites

The inclusion of a link to a site does not imply the agreement of WIPO, its Member States or the International Bureau with any of the views expressed on the site.

World Intellectual Property Organization


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Non-Governmental Organizations