Kickstarting Job Growth By Protecting IP

Last Friday’s dismal employment numbers induced a collective wince for all Americans. The economy is struggling to create jobs in the short term, and we need a long-term job strategy that cashes in on America’s strengths. We urgently need to remove impediments to growth and job creation. We need to approve the three pending free trade agreements and continuing moving forward on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. We also need to remember one of the fundamental ingredients that has helped America succeed as a nation–we nurture, fuel, and encourage innovation.

The innovation emanating from our intellectual property (IP)-intensive companies is a key driver of sustained long-term economic growth and productivity. The jobs of tomorrow hinge on the American entrepreneurial spirit and ability to innovate. But innovation can be expensive and time-consuming, frequently involving numerous trials and errors. These inherent risks involved with business endeavors of innovation and creativity leave some reluctant to finance the necessary research and development. In such an environment, it is critically important to ensure that innovators and creators will be able to capitalize on their successes. IP is the key to ensuring just that.

Research has shown that IP contributes to economic growth in both developed and developing countries by encouraging investments in new ideas and methods. IP-intensive industries are responsible for the jobs of 19 million Americans, $7.7 trillion of our gross output, and 60 percent of U.S. exports. Sound IP policies and the enforcement of IP rights in the United States and abroad are essential to advancing U.S. and global economic recovery, driving America’s competitiveness and export growth, and creating high-quality, high-paying American jobs. IP drives the American engine of innovation, fuels job creation, augments our competitive advantage, and accelerates our long-term economic growth.

Like any item of value, there are some who are willing to steal, rather than pay for it. And the worst of the worst have abused the Internet as a virtual black market, stealing America’s most innovative and creative products and selling them back to us in the form of shoddy counterfeit goods or pirated copyrighted content. These online criminals have established rogue websites dedicated to this illegal and illicit trade. By undermining the ability of creators and innovators to capitalize on the products of their genius, rogue websites hamper our ability to innovate and create new products. Fortunately, Congress is working to ensure American innovation and creativity is protected and our vibrant innovative sectors are not undermined by IP theft. The PROTECT IP Act, currently being considered in the U.S. Senate, would cut foreign rogue websites off from the U.S. marketplace.

We cannot expect our companies to grow organically and outwardly when they are undercut by criminals operating unhindered in the online marketplace. The presence of rogue websites egregiously stealing American IP provides a great hindrance to our economic futures. While there’s no panacea in solving the unemployment problem in the U.S., we can start by supporting policies conducive to protecting our IP. These are the sectors that will drive our future growth and continue to provide jobs to millions of Americans.

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