The latest report from the World Intellectual Property Organization points to the changing ways innovative firms around the world are approaching issues of IP rights ownership.
According to WIPO figures, the number of global patent applications has more than doubled in the past three decades, rising from 800,000 in the early 1980s to 1.8 million in 2009. As a result of this growing demand for IP ownership, significant ripple effects have been felt in the global economy.
"Innovation growth is no longer the prerogative of high-income countries alone; the technological gap between richer and poorer countries is narrowing," WIPO analysts explained. "Incremental and more local forms of innovation contribute to economic and social development, on a par with world-class technological innovations."
In fact, the revenue from international royalty and licensing fees has outpaced growth in global gross domestic product - climbing from $2.8 billion in 1970 to $180 billion in 2009.
However, the report's authors fear that "webs of overlapping patent rights" currently seen in software and mobile devices markets may halt the pace of innovation. To ensure firms are not mired in protracted legal debates, WIPO officials regard effective patent institutions as the cornerstone of the knowledge-based economy.