In his acceptance speech, Francis Gurry, the new Director-General of the WIPO, addressed "the question of how intellectual property can contribute to the reduction of the knowledge gap and to greater participation on the part of the developing and least developed countries in the benefits of innovation and the knowledge economy."
A graphic illustration of just how far the World IP Organization and indeed the WORLD have to go to achieve that end is provided by Worldmapper, a multidisciplinary team of mainly Sheffield academics led by Professor Danny Dorling.
They have a whole load of interesting maps one of which on the relative economic decline of the British Isles has already been blogged by BBC correspondent Mark Easton. However the map that impressed me (and one which perhaps explains the reason for our relative decline) is the Map of Patents Granted. North America is big as one would expect it to be but Japan appears on the map to be even bigger. Half way between those bulges is Europe - somewhat smaller than the USA and Japan when taken as a whole but still quite respectable. However, the UK is one of the smaller components of the European space - much smaller than Germany or even France. Interestingly, if you look at the PDF version of the map you will see tables which show that in terms of granted patents per head the Bahamas and Greenland are pretty close to the top, just behind Japan, Korea and the USA. The UK does not even appear in the tables.
However, the most shocking feature of this map - which brings me back to Gurry's acceptance speech - is the titchiness of Africa and indeed Latin America. The commentary on the map explains quite fairly and accurately the purpose of a patent but also what is wrong with patenting: