Over the past decades, consideration of IPRs has become increasingly important in many areas of agricultural development, including foreign direct investment, technology transfer, trade, investment in innovation, access to genetic resources, and the protection of traditional knowledge. The widening role of IPRs in governing the ownership of—and access to—innovation, information, and knowledge makes them particularly critical in ensuring that developing countries benefit from the introduction of new technologies that could radically alter the welfare of the poor. Failing to improve IPR policies and practices to support the needs of developing countries will eliminate significant development opportunities. The discussion in this note moves away from policy prescriptions to focus on investments to improve how IPRs are used in practice in agricultural development. These investments must be seen as complementary to other investments in agricultural development. IPRs are woven into the context of innovation and R&D. They can enable entrepreneurship and allow the leveraging of private resources for resolving the problems of poverty. Conversely, IPRs issues can delay important scientific advancements, deter investment in products for the poor, and impose crippling transaction costs on organizations if the wrong tools are used or tools are badly applied. The central benefit of pursuing the investments outlined in this note is to build into the system a more robust capacity for strategic and flexible use of IPRs tailored to development goals.

Publication Date



The World Bank

Document Type

Book Chapter