The Benefits of Intellectual Property Rights on the Economies of Nations (Not Just Wealthy Nations!)


With a hearty hat tip to PatentlyO, one of the best blogs on intellectual property issues, here is a video of Judge Randall R. Rader of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in a brief interview about the role of intellectual property rights. He scores several excellent points about the benefits that accrue when a nation encourages innovation by protecting intellectual property rights.

We mention the CAFC in the book in a passage that resonates with the words of Judge Rader:

The way of the individual patent holder has long been a hard one, often with little chance of winning suits from larger infringers equipped with deep pockets and excellent lawyers. The playing field was somewhat leveled in 1984 with the creation of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, resulting in a court that understood patents and gave their legitimate holders a reasonable chance of enforcing them. This time period corresponds with rapid escalation in the stock market, attributed to the increasing value of companies due to their intangibles—especially intellectual property.

The greatest fatigue of the inventor is experienced in countries where corruption or poorly developed legal systems result in little IP protection. So argues Hernando de Soto, a Peruvian economist and winner of many awards such as the 2006 Innovation Award from The Economist magazine for the promotion of property rights and economic development. De Soto has shown that lack of property rights has been a key factor in keeping poor nations poor. It is respect of property rights that creates the means for men to be equal in opportunity. The lone inventor can stand, patent in hand, before the giant corporation and declare, “This is my property, and you have no right to take it as your own for free.” It’s not easy, but IP gives the inventor a chance.

Remove the protection of IP rights, and innovators quickly experience the fatigue induced by theft.

There seem to be currents of decreasing respect for IP in some nations. These are currents that must be carefully navigated and, we hope, reversed, to provide the protection and motivation inventors need to take on the risk of innovation. Innovation needs liberal encouragement for the welfare of each nation.

Source: J. Lindsay, C. Perkins, and M. Karanjikar, Conquering Innovation Fatigue, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2009, pp. 135-136.

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