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Working Paper

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Challenges, Intellectual Property, patent system


One of the underlying justifications of the patent system is to encourage dissemination of scientific knowledge and promote innovation. Yet, the patent system is not a green card to innovation. Indeed, given our progress in science and the increasing rate of technological developments it is ironic that there is arguably a declining rate of innovation. From this perspective, it might be contended that the patent system is not meeting its said objectives. But the patent system should be seen in a wider context. While well-intended, it is far too simplistic to argue that patents are good or bad for innovation, or that they ‘freeze or spur’ innovation. The challenges to the patent system are complex and cannot solely be attributed to its laws. That is, the patent system’s constituting laws do not tell the full story. Often more telling are the institutional frameworks and socio-cultural and economic practices at the pre-patent inventive stage and the post-patent commercialization stage and beyond. And so when attempting to predict future developments, and ultimately, craft solutions, understanding and ensuring that the wider context is effective is paramount.