Saudi Arabia and Intellectual Property: Learning from China’s Approach

Number: 63
Noura AlZaid

Saudi Arabia’s economic future is at a turning-point. As the country increases investment in innovation to stimulate growth in non-oil sectors, cultivating an effective innovation ecosystem is key. Intellectual property (IP) is a powerful tool for spurring innovation. The dominant narrative in mainstream IP discourse is that higher IP standards lead to greater innovation outputs. However, this study argues that weaker IP standards are appropriate at this stage of the country’s economic development because they allow for smoother technology transfer that is needed to build innovation capacity and bridge existing gaps. To demonstrate the non-exceptional character of an initially relaxed approach to IP, the study follows the experience of China which, like other nations before it, adapted its IP policy to match the maturity of its national innovation system.