For most countries, economic development involves a process of 'catching up' with leading countries at the time. This is never achieved solely by physical assets and labour alone: also needed are the accumulation of technological capabilities, educational attainment, entrepreneurship, and thedevelopment of the necessary institutional infrastructure. One element of this infrastructure is the regime of intellectual property rights (IPR), particularly patents. Patents may promote innovation and catch up, and they may foster formal technology transfer. Yet they may also prove to be barriersfor developing countries that intend to acquire technologies through imitation and reverse engineering. The current move to harmonize the IPR system internationally, such as the TRIPS agreement, may thus have unexpected consequences for developing countries. This book explores these issues through an in depth study of eleven countries ranging from early developers (the USA, the Nordic Countries, and Japan), and Post-World War II countries (Korea, Taiwan, Israel) to more recent emerging economies (Argentina, Brazil, China, India, and Thailand). With contributions from international experts on innovation systems, this book will be an invaluable resource for academics and policymakers in the fields of economic development, innovation studies and intellectual property laws.