Ownership of intellectual property (IP) rights – such as trademarks, patents and copyrights – has become central to the strategies of innovating firms worldwide, it has been claimed.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), global demand for patents has risen from 800,000 applications in the early 1980s to 1.8 million in 2009.

The body believes growing investments in innovation and the globalization of economic activities are key drivers of this trend.

As a result, IP policy has moved to the forefront of innovation policy, WIPO stated.

WIPO director-general Francis Gurry said innovation growth is no longer the prerogative of high-income countries alone.

“The technological gap between richer and poorer countries is narrowing,” he claimed.

“Incremental and more local forms of innovation contribute to economic and social development, on a par with world-class technological innovations.”

WIPO also reported recently that knowledge markets based on IP rights are on the rise, with royalty and licensing fee revenue increasing from $2.8 billion in 1970, to $27 billion in 1990, to $180 billion in 2009.

IP becoming more important to globalized firms
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