US Chamber: Tougher IP Laws to Bring More Green Jobs

For the past year, the Obama administration has said green job creation hinges on the development of clean energy technology. But the US Chamber of Commerce said today that the clean energy technology sector needs intellectual property protection first.

Today, the Chamber released its 2010 IP agenda. In it, the Chamber’s Global and Intellectual Property Center urged the administration and Congress to adopt tougher IP protections in the US and abroad in 24 sectors including energy. And the Chamber wants the administration to put forth a national IP jobs plan by the summer.

“We view this as an urgent priority,” for job creation and the economy, David Hirschmann, president and CEO of the Global IP Center said during a roundtable discussion at the Chamber on Thursday.

The agenda comes on the heels of a major announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder this week to create an IP task force that will work with various agencies to help identify and combat IP theft in the U.S. and abroad.

Hirschmann said there’s no way to quantify how many jobs are lost across the economy because of IP theft, including piracy and counterfeiting. But jobs are lost, he said.

The Chamber sent two letters this week on the issue–one from Hirschmann to President Obama and one from Bruce Josten, executive vice president of government affairs for the Chamber, to members of Congress.

Both letters highlight the importance of stronger IP protections and the need to involve more agencies including the Department of Homeland Security.

The Chamber said about a million jobs in the energy sector alone will be lost over 10 years without stronger IP protections.

Hirschmann said when a U.S. company cannot sell a product because Chinese counterfeits, for example, have entered the market, the U.S. company loses profits and kills jobs.

One company may kill a few jobs, but that adds up, Hirschmann said. “Jobs are lost in twos and threes and tens and they’re created in twos and threes and tens,” he said.

Part of the Chamber’s strategy is to work with international governments to help them strengthen their IP laws so they don’t harm the U.S. competitive market and economic growth.

“For example, India’s patent laws prevent many critical medicines from being patented, thereby discouraging the development of important new treatments and cures,” Hirschmann said, in his letter to the President.

“Similarly, China’s inadequate laws and systems governing regulatory data protection and patent linkage create an obstacle to innovation and a threat to rights holders. Internet piracy in and from China is also doing great harm to America’s creative industries,” he said.

The Chamber wants Congress to build on its 2008 PRO-IP Act which created the first ever US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator position within the Executive Office of the President; The Senate confirmed Victoria Espinel last fall for that position.

Hirschmann said Congress should pass legislation that allows the U.S. Trade Representative to deal with countries that fail to respect and enforce US innovators’ rights.

The legislation should create a list of violating countries and action plans that measure their performance and improvement.

Currently, U.S. attaches at embassies abroad are first line of defense against IP theft in many cases, Hirschmann said. But, more attaches in more countries are needed.

“Sound IP policies in the United States and abroad are essential to advancing global economic recovery and creating high-quality American jobs,” Hirschmann told the President.

Subscribe for updates from GIPC