IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Reconceptualising the Debate on Intellectual Property Rights and Economic Development

Listed author(s):
  • Mercurio Bryan

    (Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Registered author(s):

    Governments and scholars have for some time grappled with the question of whether there is a connection between intellectual property (IP) and economic development, and if so, how strong is the link. Economic literature is equivocal, with some studies concluding that the connection is strong while others conclude it to be fairly weak (and that there may not even be a connection for LDCs). What is quite clear is that countries have historically shaped and amended their IP regimes to promote domestic needs and objectives. It is also clear that several countries with weak IP policies achieved rapid economic growth and development over the last five decades. For these countries, the strengthening of IP rights (IPRs) occurred after the initial stages of increased growth and development. It is also well known that countries failing to adequately protect IP limit the upside of their economic development.Domestically implementing the obligations set out in the TRIPs Agreement provides stability, assists domestic inventors and sends a positive signal to foreign investors. Of course, implementing TRIPs also has its downside, namely by forcing countries to pay a higher price for technology. Herein lies the dilemma, in which developing countries raise IP standards in order to fulfill international obligations and attract foreign investment but at the same time potentially stifling economic, financial and social development by increasing payments to the developed world for superior (and sometimes essential) technologies.This article argues that IP is critical to full-scale technological and economic development for developing countries. Linking IPRs and economic development is not often a popular perspective, but it is clear that developing countries must now operate from the perspective of TRIPs being the minimum level of protection mandated by the international community substantially deviating from the TRIPs standard is not a viable option. With IPRs and protection being raised in almost every free trade agreement negotiated by developed countries, as well as through the negotiation of new multilateral treaties, such as the proposed Substantive Patent Law Treaty and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, the time is ripe for developing countries to revisit the role of IP and economic development. Countries must seek the answers to a number of questions have increased IPRs impacted upon poverty reduction strategies? Have IPRs encouraged or led to increased growth? How have IPRs impacted access to information, knowledge, education and research? Is the IP policy coherent with other public policy issues such as investment, public health, trade and competition?

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: For access to full text, subscription to the journal or payment for the individual article is required.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The Law and Development Review.

    Volume (Year): 3 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 1 (September)
    Pages: 64-106

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:bpj:lawdev:v:3:y:2010:i:1:n:3
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    Order Information: Web:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bpj:lawdev:v:3:y:2010:i:1:n:3. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Peter Golla)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.