September 9, 2015

Employing Innovation – Why Innovation Policy Is Critical Now

This is the first in a series of innovation pieces leading up to the 3rd Annual Global IP Summit on November 5 & 6, 2015. Check out the other posts in this series – Part 2: A Legacy of Inventors, Entrepreneurs, and Innovators; Part 3: Being Competitive in the Global Marketplace; Part 4: Innovation Policy: the Elephant in the Room At the Summit, GIPC will release a new study looking at the state impact of IP, updating the 2013 IP Jobs Map. Join us. At the Summit, GIPC will release a new study looking at the state impact of IP, updating the 2013 IP Jobs Map.

70,000 – The net loss of business enterprises in the U.S. economy over the last six years.  Sadly, this is not the only indicator that shows U.S. and global economies are facing tough times. Entrepreneurs and inventors are not creating new businesses at the same rate due to several key factors. Capital is harder to access and, unfortunately, the underpinnings of innovation—intellectual property laws–are being eroded.

The history of the U.S. is one of inventors and entrepreneurs. Benjamin Franklin and his fellow conspirators helped draft a constitution that included Article I, Sec. 8, which recognized at our nation’s birth the foundational rights to one’s ideas and intellectual property.

That belief remains today. One only has to watch ABC’s “Shark Tank” to see hopeful tycoons and their ingenuity on display. The popularity of the program also demonstrates that interest in their success remains core to our cultural identity as a nation. But the “Sharks” will be the first to give the honest assessment that ideas alone do not make a business. They examine price points, sales figures, market share, equity, and intellectual property. “Do you have a patent?” is one of the most common questions aimed at the wanna-be-billionaires.

But having a competitive edge does not just apply within U.S. borders; in fact, 95% of the world’s consumers are located outside the United States. New medical cures, high tech inventions, and amazing entertainment require global trade and strong economic ties for the potential access in other markets. Look no further than the GIPC International IP Index, which found strong correlations between economies with stronger intellectual property standards  and  higher rates of investment in R&D, innovative output, and greater access to digital technologies.

We need to invest in the future, and that’s where our public policy debate must be focused First, government can help provide resources for education and R&D.  The success of DARPA’s investment in the ARPANET, which led to the Internet, is only one example of how society has benefited from forward-thinking partnerships with public and private ventures. Government can also help provide a legal framework, without overregulation, that allows businesses to have the freedom to negotiate and interact on a fair and level playing field.  The U.S. intellectual property system – comprised of patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets –has afforded entrepreneurs the certainty needed for private entities to expend resources for development and innovation.  This fosters domestic entrepreneurs and invites foreign investment.  Without it, we endanger losing our competitive edge to other economies around the globe.

Legislation on trade secrets, growing uncertainty in the patent system, a modernized copyright office, and consumer protection against counterfeit goods are all critical issues.  Setting the right precedents in U.S. law will enable us to develop stronger ties with other economies, build their innovative capacities, and expand access in the global marketplace.

The future of our long-term economic viability in the global market place is facing many challenges, and we need to act now. Strengthening the current U.S. intellectual property system is one important step.

Yet, we remain optimists. American culture always has been one of inspiration and freedom, and that is what will lead us through these economic difficulties.  This combination of invention and business acumen has made the U.S. a leading economy in the world.  Our leadership will remain intact, and we can continue to be competitive in the global marketplace, if we give the next generation of innovators the same environment to grow.

Brian Noyes is executive director of strategy and communications at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC).

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