Intellectual Property = Jobs

Today marks World Intellectual Property Day, as designated by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) more than 10 years ago. As we reflect on the contributions made by the world’s innovative and creative industries to economic and social development, it is only appropriate to also consider the challenges these industries and our economies face as IP theft proliferates around the globe. Indeed, unpredictable and insufficient protection of IP rights—including patents, trademarks and copyrights—and the lack of enforcement of these rights, vastly undermine the incentives for businesses to innovate and deprive consumers of legitimate and valuable life-saving and life-improving products and inventions.

While intellectual property (IP) may seem like an abstract concept, many fail to realize how central IP is to our economic well-being. Sound IP policies in the U.S. and abroad are essential to advancing global economic recovery, driving America’s competitiveness and export growth, and creating high-quality American jobs. In sum, IP = Jobs.

The facts are clear. IP-based companies account for 60 percent U.S. exports, help drive more than 33 percent of our economic growth, and employ over 19 million Americans. Jobs are also dependent on the protection of intellectual property, which more often than not come to fruition following exhaustive research and development (R&D). Between 2000 and 2007, America’s IP-intensive industries spent almost 13 times more on R&D per employee than non-IP industries.

Others recognize the value of American intellectual property and they seek to rob us of it. The battle against intellectual property theft is raging, and it is a battle we cannot afford to lose. IP theft has become an all too common problem both here and abroad. This problem is accelerating as criminals have taken to the Internet to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers. In the end, IP theft is stealing American jobs and stifling the innovation and creativity that drive our economy.

While World IP Day is being celebrated today, counterfeiting and piracy are costing the global economy $650 billion and 2.5 million jobs in the G-20 economies. And many more jobs are threatened by a lack of respect for IP rights of industries across the board. So, as we look to “design the future,” we must ensure the protection for those who innovate through the strengthening of national and international IP laws and agreements. We can’t afford not to.

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