Innovation and Technology Transfer of Environmentally Sound Technologies: The Need to Engage in a Substantive Debate


  • Carlos M. Correa


It is often suggested that the rate of innovation in a country is essentially dependent on the availability of intellectual property protection. However, the economic literature, particularly on the role of patents, generally dismisses a direct and automatic relationship between such protection and innovation. Patents may not encourage innovations when some contextual factors are not present, while other mechanisms may be more effective. Patents, in addition, are not a good indicator of innovation. Moreover, the proliferation of patents, including in the area of technologies relevant to address climate change, may block innovation and create barriers to the transfer of technology to developing countries. This article argues that a serious discussion on the role of intellectual property, so far eluded by developed countries, should be undertaken in the context of climate change negotiations.