It is commonly asserted that patents are a “bad deal” for developing countries. According to this view, patents boost the returns of firms in developed countries that hold necessary technology assets at the expense of firms in developing countries that require access to those assets. It naturally follows that patents are likely to impede local innovation and economic development. In recently published empirical research, I present findings that cast doubt on this conventional view. In the case of several countries that have made significant moves up the economic ladder, patenting strategies appear to have enabled innovators in these emerging-market economies to monetize R&D investments by supplying critical inputs to global technology markets. Without a secure patent portfolio, those entry opportunities may have been foreclosed.
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