Innovation and the next great recovery

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently said that the recession, which has contributed to nearly 7 million lost jobs since 2007, is probably over. If Bernanke’s claim is right, America is emerging from the worst recession since the 1930s. And although this economic downturn has been compared at times to the Great Depression, what remains to be seen is what the recovery will look like, and how long it will take.

Post-World War II was a time of great innovation and creativity. Necessity truly was the mother of invention as Americans set out to rebuild Europe and improve their own quality of life. The development of new technologies revolutionized the workplace and home, and advances in medicine and other fields changed how we live.

Creative industries thrived with the growth and spread of American culture. This innovation renaissance not only improved lives and human progress, but it created jobs – millions of jobs – that kept growing as these advancements defined America.

Intellectual property (IP), what most people understand as simple ideas or creations of the mind, played a key role in this economic and social transformation. The legal rights that governed IP for generations provided a known system of incentives that both fostered and spread innovation. It was the inducements built into our free-enterprise system, coupled with the talents and hard work of entrepreneurs, which moved this nation forward. It worked back then, and it will work now.

Six decades later, nearly half the U.S. economy is driven by industries that depend heavily on intellectual property rights. If we are to jumpstart a second economic renaissance, then we must begin by protecting and stimulating the lifeblood of America’s economy: its ideas.

This week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center -whose mission is to champion IP – is hosting its sixth annual IP Summit. Jobs are the issue of the day as speakers from a wide array of IP-intensive industries, along with members of Congress and senior administration officials, discuss how protecting and promoting strong IP rights in the U.S. can lead to economic transformation.

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