Senate Judiciary Committee Recognizes IP as Driver of Innovation

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Tuesday to recognize the essential value of IP in the American economy. The hearing, entitled, “Intellectual Property – Driver of Innovation: Making Our Lives Healthier, Safer, and more Productive,” brought together experts from both the private and public sector, including representatives from cutting-edge research firms like DuPont and Kateeva who depend on intellectual property rights to develop innovative new products.

Senator Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, emphasized the crucial role of enforcement agencies in preventing IP-infringement. In his statement, the Senator attested: “Counterfeiting of goods presents a world-wide problem with enormous health and economic impacts, costing the global economy over 2.5 million jobs per year while draining tax revenue and hurting the ability of American companies to compete in foreign markets. Similarly, trade secret theft is an increasingly serious problem which is why Congress passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act last year. A report by the IP Commission found that annual losses due to trade secret theft are over $300 billion and is the cause of an estimated loss of 2.1 million American jobs.”

Witnesses included Dr. Neal Gutterson, Vice-President of Research and Development at DuPont Pioneer. Together with his colleagues, Dr. Gutterson is revolutionizing the agricultural industry by developing technologies to protect crops from pests and disease, forecast yield predictions, and increase agricultural output. According to Gutterson, strong IP protection, “allows our scientists and researchers to do what they do best – offer American farmers the tools and products they need to meet global demand for high-quality, nutritious food, as well as feed, fuel and materials.“

Speaking on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was Matthew C. Allen, who works as Acting Assistant Director of the agency’s Intellectual Property Rights Center. Allen praised the efficacy of United States IP enforcement, reporting that in Fiscal Year 2016, the agency confiscated 31,560 counterfeit products valued at $1.4 billion. 

Also testifying was Dr. Connor F Madigan, President of Kateeva, Inc. Madigan, who developed a process for manufacturing OLED screens using inkjet printers, calls intellectual property the “key driver” of Kateeva’s innovation. Madigan affirmed, “A critical factor in Kateeva’s ability to raise money to continue building its business has been its strong U.S. IP portfolio and the strength of the U.S. IP institutions and laws.”

The hearing occurred in advance of World IP Day, a global event dedicated to celebrating the role of IP in supporting innovation and improving lives. Senator Grassley remarked, “This World IP Day, it is important to once again recognize the significance of our nation’s robust system of intellectual property protection and enforcement and the necessity for greater protections around the globe.”