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The impact of intellectual property regulation on global medical technology innovation
  1. Tiffany E Chao1,2,3,
  2. Gita N Mody3,4
  1. 1Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2Stanford Biodesign, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California, USA
  3. 3Program in Global Surgery and Social Change, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4Department of General Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Tiffany E Chao, Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, GRB 425, Boston, MA 02114, USA; tchao{at}


Technology innovation has the potential to expand equitable healthcare to underserved populations in global health. At the same time, device patents and their legislation can be barriers to innovation for developing countries. This article reviews the current landscape of international intellectual property regulation and reasons why inventors of healthcare devices for the developing world have varying interest in pursuing patent protection of their devices. Finally, we highlight some opportunities for frugal approaches to intellectual property protection as well as propose more imaginative legislation in developing countries.

  • Affordable
  • Global Health
  • Frugal
  • Inventions
  • Reverse Innovations
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