The 1990s witnessed a global wave of intellectual property rights reform. Anchored in a series of international accords, this wave resulted in the strengthening of intellectual property rights in countries around the world. Despite a continuing and emotive debate about amending or relaxing those accords, global minimum standards are taking root and some countries are even going beyond. Based on more than a decade of experience, the empirical evidence indicates that an appropriate degree of IPR protection does help to deliver access in developing countries to goods, services and FDI from abroad, as well as boosting domestic innovation.

Market mechanisms are operating to deliver improved technology. But, more can be done to improve upon these results. Abuse of intellectual property continues in some areas. Opportunities are missed to promote innovation and sustainable development. This note discusses the experience in developing countries, highlighting why intellectual property matters for economic development.