There is a heated debated – in academia and in policy circles – about the usefulness of a stronger global regime of intellectual property rights (IPRs). Supporters of strong IPRs argue that they will increase investments in R&D and innovation and disseminating it across countries. Detractors respond that this would imply another burden on developing countries, making slower and more difficult their catching up. The introduction of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in 1994 has even further polarized these positions. We argue that the relevance of IPRs in facilitating or obstructing technology transfer has largely been exaggerated. Innovation-based development is neither hampered nor facilitated by strong or weak IPRs, but rather by the willingness to invest resources in R&D, education, and infrastructures. While TRIPS have effectively represented an attempt to generate a global regime of IPRs, its economic effectiveness has been rather limited since enforcement and policing of IPRs infractions are still firmly in the hands of national authorities.
Filippetti, Andrea and Archibugi, Daniele, The Globalization of Intellectual Property Rights (January 29, 2015). The Global Handbook of Science, Technology and Innovation, Wiley Oxford, 2015, forthcoming.