Friday, March 10, 2017 11:24 am | By Lorenzo Montanari
A new Congress and White House represents a time of opportunity for America. The United States is the global leader in entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation, and strong intellectual property rights are integral to this continued success. Property Rights Alliance, Americans for Tax Reform and Digital Liberty, along with more than 60 bi-partisan state and national organizations, have authored an open coalition letter to members of Congress with guidelines to consider in regards to intellectual property rights. Our organizations not only engage in research and educational initiatives in intellectual property, but also represent millions of Americans through state and national advocacy.
Intellectual property rights were deemed so important to the health of our democracy that they were enshrined in our Constitution under Article 1, Section 8. It reads:
“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”
Indeed, the rights given to inventors and creators to protect their ideas is key to promoting free speech and spurring innovation. Without a guarantee of protection under the Constitution that their ideas will not be stolen and used by others – inventors would simply have no incentive to create. The Founding Fathers understood that for America to be a strong and prosperous nation, inventors needed to have the full freedom to create and innovate.
In addition to promoting free speech and encouraging innovation, intellectual property plays a major role in the U.S. economy. A 2016 report, jointly authored by the Department of Commerce and the Patent and Trademark Office found IP-intensive industries employed 45 million Americans in the in 2014 (latest available statistics), that striking figure represents 30% of all jobs in the U.S. economy. Furthermore, IP-intensive industries accounted for $6.6 trillion in GDP in 2014, which is roughly 38.2% of total GDP. As IP is a central part of the U.S. economy, ensuring its protection should remain a top priority for promoting economic growth.
Threats to intellectual property rights include various forms of IP theft. These threats multiply exponentially when U.S. consumers and businesses conduct international trade. Any trade agreement negotiated must ensure strong protection of intellectual property for American businesses. Furthermore, online IP theft has become an increasing problem. While the invention of the Internet has created an excellent platform for creativity and innovation, protecting IP to maintain this innovation is critically important.
Finally, strong intellectual property rights benefit the American consumer. Through IP, Americans can be assured that the products they buy are real and safe. Counterfeit products present a huge risk to consumers, often made improperly they malfunction harming consumers as well as the brand reputation that was faked. Ensuring both strong IP protection and enforcement greatly reduces the risk of counterfeit products entering the market.
As the new Congress discusses new and existing laws and regulations governing IP, they must consider the central role that IP plays in promoting both our economy and society. The continued protection of IP rights remains essential to American innovation and competitiveness now and in the future.
The full letter can be found here.