Last week 150 state Chambers of Commerce signed a coalition letter to urge Congress to protect intellectual property (IP). These organizations have joined together to stress the critically important role that IP plays in driving the U.S. economy.
As noted in the letter:
"America’s IP – our patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets – has been an engine of economic growth for our Nation, offering innovators and creators the promise of a return on their investments of time and resources. In fact, IP-intensive industries employ over 45 million Americans."
A recently released report from the U.S. Department of Commerce on the role of IP in the U.S. economy clearly illustrates the key points of the coalition letter. Industries that were labeled as “IP-intensive” accounted for 27.9 million jobs in the U.S. in 2014. Additionally, those same industries constituted $6.6 trillion of U.S. GDP in 2014, which was around 38.2% of the total. IP plays a central role in the U.S. economy and must be protected to ensure continued economic growth and stability.
IP also plays a major role in U.S. innovation. Strong protection of IP rights creates an incentive for businesses and individuals to innovate, effectively facilitating the innovation process from R&D to commercialization. According to the 2016 Global Innovation Index, the U.S. is ranked 4th in the globe for innovation, up from 5th place last year. If the U.S. is to maintain its place in the top five, and potentially move towards first place, strong IP protections need to remain in place to foster continued innovation.
A major issue Congress should address, as noted in the coalition letter, is the theft of IP through counterfeiting and piracy. Online piracy is one of the most common forms of piracy with the rise of the Internet. Every year, the U.S. economy loses about $60 billion due to online piracy. This places a heavy burden on industries that rely heavily on copyright, such as the music, film, and book industries.
While piracy costs the U.S. economy tens of billion every year, the issue of counterfeiting has an even greater economic impact. Each year, counterfeiting costs the U.S. economy an estimated $250 billion in losses. In 2014, U.S. customs officials seized only $1.2 billion worth of counterfeit goods illegally entering the U.S. Billions of dollars of counterfeit goods are still entering the U.S. market unnoticed, as well as being sold in markets around the world. Further strengthening of IP protection in counterfeiting and piracy could bring billions back into the U.S. economy.
Overall, the U.S. is one of the most innovative countries in the world due to its strong protection of IP. Our economy remains strong and growing through industries that rely heavily on IP. Strengthening America’s IP protection would continue to add billions of dollars into the U.S. economy, helping it grow even stronger.