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Intellectual property related development aid: is supply aligned with demand?

Ghafele, Roya and Engel, Jakob (2011): Intellectual property related development aid: is supply aligned with demand?

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Abstract

We assessed to what extent developed country development aid programmes are likely to have interacted with, and potentially contributed to the promotion of country-appropriate sustainable changes in IP strategies and technological capacities over the period 2005-10. This was done primarily on the basis of an imputed impact assessments of four emerging and transition economies; namely Brazil, India, Poland and Thailand. Through an analysis of various measures of the domestic economic, technological and Intellectual Property context, we studied to what extent the supply of IP-related development aid provided between 2005 and 2010 responded to the likely needs of recipient countries. While the data shows that technical and financial assistance in this area could be of great use, and there is clearly a need for well-targeted IP TA and much scope for useful IP TA interventions, there seemed to only be a partial alignment between country needs and the direction of IP TA. On the whole, most IP-related development aid and technical assistance ended to focus on similar areas in each country, regardless of the development context. In Brazil and India’s case, training on IP administration may have influenced increased efficiency (from a low base) at the INPI and IP India, while the substantial EU support to raise SME IP awareness in Poland is likely to have had some significant impacts. In India, sustained development aid in this area likely influenced legislation on plant variety protection, as did WIPO TA on legislative reforms in Thailand. In all cases, the substantial US (and to a more limited extent EC) focus on development aid directed towards enforcement coincided with improvements in this area, though the political and economic pressures by both providers, and especially the US Section 301 System probably dwarfed the impact of this type of aid. Further, the typology and direction of IP related development aid reflects the comparative advantage of IP TA providers, as well as political and diplomatic interests, trade priorities and colonial ties, among many other things. As such, it is important to understand that IP TA is also highly political – a fact often concealed in the emphasis on its “technical” nature.

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