Almost everyone in society is a user and potential creator of intellectual property. Its protection, through a system of national and international rules called intellectual property rights, is necessary to provide incentives and financing for innovation and creation, which in turn lead to economic, cultural and social progress. Protection for intellectual property also encourages the production and dissemination of knowledge and a wide range of quality goods and services.
Intellectual property rights add value for consumers and can provide a guarantee of source and quality. Intellectual property protection contributes to economic growth in both developed and developing countries by stimulating innovation, cultural diversity and technical development as part of a larger policy framework. Properly used, intellectual property rights can also be key tools for the alleviation of poverty through trade.
The immense adverse economic and social impact of intellectual property theft requires that combating counterfeiting and piracy become a priority for society, and not just right holders. Unless governments, businesses and citizens make a coordinated effort to uphold the intellectual property system, society will not reap its benefits.
Call to action
To derive the full potential of the intellectual property system as a tool for growth and progress, governments must take positive action. Suggested measures include:
- providing for clear and enforceable intellectual property rights ownership, without discrimination as to nationality;
- improving the accessibility of national and international intellectual property protection systems in terms of costs and ease of use;
- ensuring that intellectual property institutions are efficient and sufficiently funded;
- supporting intellectual property policies with sound economic management, good infrastructure and other appropriate policies in areas such as education, science and technology, culture, taxes, investment regulations, production and technical incentives, trade, and competition;
- establishing an active and coherent intellectual property policy coordinated throughout government bodies;
- educating local communities, businesses and the public on the potential benefits of the intellectual property system; providing assistance to innovators/producers/creators on how to use intellectual property protection to their commercial advantage; and supporting efforts of stakeholder organizations in this area;
- bridging the gap between academic and research institutions, and businesses and financing sources; and
- making it a priority to strengthen and/or create a legal framework to ensure implementation and effective enforcement measures against intellectual property theft. There is also a need for clearly designated and sufficiently resourced enforcement institutions, supported by training, international cooperation and public education.