Mexico is a large and diverse economy that grew steadily until the 2008 recession, and continued to grow in 2010 and 2011. Previously, it was recognized as being slightly behind other economies of its class in innovation, but incremental progress is being made to bring inventors and entrepreneurs greater attention and access to investment. How does intellectual property activity fare in this eclectic economy?
Patents meandered at a slow pace of growth until around 2004, when they started climbing far faster than the rate of GDP growth. All the way through 2011, Mexico saw unprecedented activity in patenting by its own citizens, even when GDP dipped in 2008 and 2009.
This “indigenous activity” is not limited to filing patents at home or in other countries. There has been growth in both categories, showing that its inventors are increasingly looking to promote their products globally, and that they are not scorning their own country. Dual growth in these categories is not guaranteed in an innovative economy, making it a cause for optimism. In addition, patents filed by “non-residents” jumped substantially around 2000, and has remained high. This is likely due to Mexico’s heavy trade with the U.S. and Canada.
The quality of IP rights protection in Mexico has room to improve, but is not poor by any means. The International Property Rights Index notes that Mexico has made strides in protecting intellectual property, especially in 2010, but is limited by low scores in copyright piracy. The result is that the middling score in IPR is dragged down by factors that are not specifically relevant to the innovative inventors and entrepreneurs.
A cursory Internet search will prove that innovation has been identified as important for Mexico’s future growth for many years. This is driven by a number of factors including an abundance of well-educated young citizens, an already-growing economy, and strong growth in the number of inventors seeking patents. Even companies like IBM have recognized this, evidenced by the company opening an Innovation Center in Mexico in 2009. The key will be to turn the corner and make these great individual factors coalesce into the kind of innovation economy that becomes more than the sum of its parts.
For more Developing IP Economies posts, check out our International section.