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Abstract and Keywords

The use of property-like rights to induce innovations of various kinds is perhaps the oldest institutional arrangement that is particular to innovation as a social phenomenon. It is now customary to refer to these rights as intellectual property rights (IPRs), comprising old types of rights such as patents for inventions, trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks, and design rights, together with newer ones such as breeding rights and database rights. The various IPRs usually have long legal and economic histories, often with concomitant controversies. Nonetheless, despite their long history, until recently IPRs did not occupy a central place in debates over economic policy, national competitiveness, or social welfare. In the last quarter of the twentieth century, however, a new era—dubbed the pro-patent or pro-IP era—emerged, first in the US and then globally. These changes provided policy makers in both developed and developing countries with new challenges.

Keywords: innovation, intellectual property rights, inventions, trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks, design rights

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