11 May 2010

Importance of Intellectual Property for Innovation and Technology Transfer

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) are currently exploring opportunities to formalize and further strengthen their cooperation to leverage their respective expertise in support of sustainable development.

UNIDO thinks that while stronger IPR protection can ultimately reap rewards in terms of greater domestic innovation and increased technology diffusion in developing countries with sufficient capacity to innovate, it has little impact on innovation and diffusion in those developing countries without such capacity and may impose additional costs.

In this context, Mr Francis Gurry, WIPO Director General, spoke to UNIDO member states on May 10, 2010 in Vienna about the critical role of IP as a tool for enabling innovation, the practical transfer of technology and industrial competitiveness, addressing the following key issues:
  • The IP system played a key role in facilitating technology transfer by incentivizing investment in innovation, providing a framework for trading intellectual assets, and by establishing market order through marks and brands. The innovation landscape was the subject of rapid and radical change pointing to the intensification of investment in knowledge creation which had more than doubled in the past 15 years rising to some 1.1. trillion US dollars in 2009.

  • The geography of technology production is rapidly changing as China had become the third largest investor in research and development. Japan, the Republic of Korea and China have particularly experienced sustained growth in international patent applications. In 1994, these countries together accounted for 7.6% of PCT applications rising, fifteen years later, in 2009 to 29.2%.

  • A dramatic shift in models of innovation has occured and specifically, the arrival of open and networked innovation offers great opportunities for developing countries to share in innovation. IP in its broadest sense is a mechanism for translating knowledge into commercial assets noting that the means of production of knowledge was moving from the individual to the collective and from national to international.

  • The IP system offers an essential framework for defining the rights and obligations of multiple participants in collective knowledge-generation and knowledge-sharing projects. It is important to develop the infrastructure of the international IP system as a means of increasing participation in the knowledge economy and reducing the knowledge gap.
Having such targets in mind, one may ask how this may economically help those developing countries without sufficient capacity to innovate.