Measuring the Economic Impact of IP Systems

September 19, 2007

While the role of the intellectual property (IP) system as a stimulus for promoting technological innovation, improving trade and enhancing competitiveness is widely recognized, Member States have highlighted in the WIPO Development Agenda discussions, that there is a pressing need among policy-makers for empirical data which demonstrates the precise impact of IP on economic development. 

Developing reliable methodologies to capture and measure this impact accurately, however, presents a major on-going challenge.  

WIPO - UNU Joint Research Project

In September 2007, WIPO’s Japan Office concluded a major study of the economic impact of IP systems in six Asian countries– China, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea and Vietnam – with the aim of assessing and developing a sound methodology for carrying out such economic research.   The methodology could be applied in other regions of the world, offering a useful tool for Members States wishing to conduct similar projects.

The methodology used in the study, which encompasses a cross-section of industrial sectors, has three main components and incorporates company data, where available, dating back over the last 20 to 30 years:

  • Part 1 consists of a survey of national policy reforms geared towards  IP-based economic development;
  • Part 2 contains case studies on individual companies from different industrial and commercial sectors;
  • Part 3 consists of economic analysis using economic models.
The project research team is composed of national experts with backgrounds in IP, law and economics, selected from countries with differing social and economic profiles.  

The research results indicate a positive correlation between the strengthening of the IP system and subsequent economic growth.   The reports examine the impact of the IP system on areas such as research and development, foreign direct investment and technology transfer.

The experts noted several difficulties in undertaking such a broad ranging research project, notably the lack of availability of sufficient empirical data.   In some cases historical data was simply not available, or existed only in a format that was not usable.   In addition, in some participating countries there are not enough examples of certain types of industry to provide statistically meaningful data.   In these cases, it was necessary to reduce the number of different industrial sectors that could be included in the research.

The research results contain country specific recommendations for policy makers aimed at optimizing the national IP system in order for it to contribute further to the economic growth of the participating countries.

Country Reports

The country reports are available at:

  • General Remarks [ PDF]
  • China [ PDF]
  • India [ PDF]
  • Japan [ PDF]
  • Malaysia [ PDF]
  • Republic of Korea [ PDF]
  • Vietnam [ PDF]