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Technology Transfer & Intellectual Property Rights: The Korean experience

This paper by Linsu Kim contains an overview of South Korea's technological development and focuses on the interplay between technology transfer via various means such as licenses, reverse engineering and domestic technological learning efforts. The paper draws lessons on the impact of intellectual property rights on technological and economic development.

The paper confirms the findings of other recent studies that the impact of intellectual property rights (IPRs) on technology transfer and technological development will differ according to the levels of technological and economic development of different countries. The author concludes that there are four main lessons from the South Korean experience: first, strong IPRs will hamper rather than facilitate technology transfer and domestic learning in the initial stage of development when learning is based on reverse engineering and duplicative imitation of foreign technologies. Second, IPR protection only becomes a relevant element in technology transfer when countries have developed considerable domestic capabilities. Third, in order to contribute to development, the enforcement of IPRs should be differentiated according to level of economic development of countries and different industrial sectors. Fourth, developing countries should strive to change standardised multilateral IPR regimes and to guarantee more favourable IPR policies to them, while making efforts to enhance their absorptive capacity.