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If developed and developing countries’ national patent systems were integrated into the trade system, the result would be greater specialization among inventors and, with it, faster technological innovation and productivity growth. Yet under current arrangements, World Trade Organization member states do not honor foreign inventors’ claims to their own innovations. More than ever, the world needs a new framework of trade rules to facilitate the exchange of ideas across borders.

Economic growth is essentially driven by growth in productivity, which, in turn, is driven by the creation of new technologies. In today’s world, such innovations will increasingly be developed as a result of coordination among inventors across companies and countries. Yet productivity growth has been sluggish for more than 50 years, owing significantly to gaps in trade rules, intellectual-property mercantilism through “forced technology transfer,” and the weakening of national patent systems. These factors have shut out grassroots inventors.

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