Innovation Without Patents

Innovation Without Patents

Harnessing the Creative Spirit in a Diverse World

Edited by Uma Suthersanen, Graham Dutfield and Kit Boey Chow

A question the book considers is how far legal protection should extend to inventions that may only just, or indeed not quite, meet the conventional criteria for patentability, in terms of the level of inventiveness. Innovation without Patents offers a thoughtful and empirically rich analysis of the current system in a number of developed and developing countries in the Asia-Pacific. It asks whether such innovations should remain free from patenting, or whether alternative intellectual property regimes should be offered in such cases, and indeed whether the requirements change depending on a country’s level of development. This discussion is capped by a number of proposed policy options.

Chapter 1: Innovation and Development

Graham Dutfield and Uma Suthersanen

Subjects: innovation and technology, intellectual property, law - academic, intellectual property law


Graham Dutfield and Uma Suthersanen 1.1 Development and Diversity ‘Development’, a word borrowed from biology, is a term whose meaning is contested by social scientists and international development experts and organ isations. Nowadays, it is common to speak of ‘economic development’, which focuses on a country’s measurable economic performance relative to other countries; of ‘human development’, which supplements economic development by incorporating social welfare considerations; and of ‘sustainable development’, which takes into account the environment as well. Conventionally, the extent of a country’s development is quantified by using certain indicators of income and output, such as gross national product (GNP). This is, of course, economic development. At its crudest, the economic progress of different countries is compared by making country league tables, with the richest nations according to GNP per capita at the top and the poorest with the lowest figures propping up the table at the bottom. The World Bank’s annual World Development Reports rank countries in this way (although the reports provide various other indicators of development as well). More commonly, though, we tend to talk of developed countries and developing countries as if there are no other kinds of country. Alternatively, but similarly, following the 1980 report of the Independent Commission on International Development Issues chaired by former West German Chancellor Willi Brandt, the developed world is ‘the North’ and the developing world is ‘the South’. In 1971, though, the United Nations (UN) carved out a sub-category of the latter grouping, the ‘least developed countries’ (LDCs). At...

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