Why the TPP Matters to U.S. Innovators and Creators

As negotiators from nine countries continue to hunker down in Leesburg, Virginia this week to make continued progress on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) some in this area might wonder why this agreement matters. Indeed, the need to conclude a high standard deal matters for the 55 million Americans who rely on intellectual property for their livelihood.

Intellectual property is a cornerstone of our innovative economy which has allowed the U.S. to lead the way in creating breakthrough solutions to global challenges – from life saving medicines to blockbuster films to green technologies. IP-intensive industries contribute to over one-third of U.S. GDP and almost three-quarters of our exports. Strong and smart IP policies not only fuel jobs but also drive our economic growth and global competitiveness.

IP matters to every state in the U.S. In Virginia, the host of this round of TPP negotiations, IP matters to the 1.3 million IP-related jobs that pay on average 32% more than the national average. It matters to Virginia’s competitiveness by driving 72% of state exports, representing an astounding $13 billion. It matters for Virginia’s burgeoning research and development (R&D) centers which produce $6.14 billion in expenditures and the 255,000 science and engineering jobs in the state that are moving the ball on innovation.

While IP rights are critical to U.S. jobs, growth and innovation, they are by no means exclusive to us. Intellectual property rights can foster strong domestic innovation environments for emerging economies or economies wishing to advance their economic and social progress. Studies show that with every incremental increase in patent, copyright, and trademark rights, domestic R&D and homegrown innovation also increase.

Given IP’s role in driving jobs and innovation, a modern and robust IP chapter in the TPP is critical. The TPP not only will serve as the rules of the road for the parties to this agreement but also stands to be a model for future trade agreements. It is therefore vital that the TPP include robust IP protections consistent with the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), an agreement that received strong bipartisan support in the United States.

Our copyright industries, for example, are one of our most robust export industries. Yet, their success is constantly challenged by online piracy. To avoid crippling losses to these industries, TPP must include strong IP provisions modeled on KORUS, such as provisions that address attempts to hack copyrighted works. Similarly, our ability to continue to see the development and delivery of cutting edge medicines also rests on our ability to secure meaningful IP protections. This is particularly critical for biologic medicines, which represent the future of medical innovation. TPP should provide protections similar to KORUS and U.S. law, which provides for 12 years of protection for regulatory data submitted to market innovative biologic medicines in the U.S.

It is imperative that we get it right. This means ensuring the TPP’s IP chapter is comprehensive, commercially meaningful, and provides incentives to innovate. The advantages of a robust IP chapter are just as much commonsense as they are business sense.

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