by Cecily Anne O’Regan –
It might appear that intellectual property protection has a positive impact on a country’s economic development. According to Professor François Dessemontet, “there is a strong correlation between the rate of patents sought by enterprise and the general level of economic developments.” However, it would be arrogant to presume that a one-size-fits-all approach toward intellectual property protection would work for developing countries. In fact, as noted by Sir Hugh Laddie, “[f]or too long intellectual property rights have been regarded as food for the rich countries and poison for poor countries . . . Poor countries may find them useful provided they are accommodated to suit local palates. The . . . appropriate diet for each developing country needs to be decided on the basis of what is best for its development, and that the international community and governments in all countries should take decisions with that in mind.” This essay explores whether intellectual property rights serve as a hurdle for the transfer of technology to developing countries, or whether there are other, subtler influences at work. This essay also explores whether other mechanisms can be employed to encourage the transfer of technology to developing countries.