January 6, 2010

Myth 3: Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) raise the cost of knowledge so much that they inhibit innovation and creativity.

Fact:  Strong IP rights actually enhance innovation and creativity by protecting the rights of inventors and artists, and guaranteeing them just compensation for a limited period of time. This, in turn, provides them both the means and incentive to create newer works, products and services, thus continuing to expand the depth and breadth of knowledge around the world.

Moreover, because the filing of patents requires the disclosure of information that would enable others to replicate the inventor’s discovery (and others be kept secret), others can use and build upon this shared knowledge to create newer and/or better products.

Innovation responds quickly to incentives and protections guaranteed in a modern system of IP rights. Indeed, multiple studies over a period of several years have demonstrated that countries with strong IP frameworks and protections typically experience the greatest innovation and creativity, as determined through patent and copyright filings. Developing countries with the best legal frameworks for IP rights also tend to see the greatest share of technology transfer, joint R&D work, and other forms of knowledge sharing and capacity building that helps advance their own development and economic growth.

Without strong IP rights, and the disclosure requirements on inventors they also impose, knowledge would be treated as “trade secrets” that would be unavailable to the public. Inventors and creators would also be reluctant to share their works broadly. All of this would undermine the time-proven lifecycle of innovation that has served the world well for generations, and slow the proliferation of knowledge globally.

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