Why Getting a Handle on the Amount of Global IP Theft is Necessary
Jun 18, 2013
In late May, the 2013 IP Commission report was released. The report is published by the National Bureau of Asian Research, under the auspices of Dennis C. Blair and Jon Huntsman, Jr. While the commission expresses several potential short, medium, and long-term solutions to the problem of global intellectual property theft, the hardest hitting points expressed in the report are the losses incurred from the theft.
According to the report over $300 billion dollars and 27 million jobs are lost annually to IP theft in the US alone. And the US is not the only country that experiences a variety of losses; the UK indicates deficits in the billions of £s. Furthermore, China seems to be the biggest offender committing anywhere from 50-80% of the global IP theft, with Russia and India also on the watch light. These numbers are substantial in real terms; that is their impact and effect matters.
However, there is another, more serious, underlying problem with the amount of IP theft that occurs globally. These values may have lasting impacts on individuals’ desire to innovate and patent IP. If there is a high percentage chance that you won’t see the fruits of your hard labor it makes little sense to patent or produce your work for public consumption. This consequence could then lead to a stagnation of innovative technology.
While there are some methodological problems with the IP Commission Report – not by them specifically but due to lack of precise data – these numbers are astronomical and would still be so even if they were grossly inflated. IP theft is a serious problem in a growingly connected and technologically reliant global economy.
Therefore, the private market (producers and consumers) ought to make a point to protect the IP of other individuals by making a conscious effort to buy goods and services from legitimate and reputable dealers. To a lesser extent, legislators and diplomats also have a role to play in the world of IP theft. They ought to make it a priority to explain the importance of IP protections with the leaders of other countries. Furthermore, future trade agreements might need to be predicated on the notion that trading companies will respect each other’s IP laws or face some form of economic sanction.
Here is the short and long of it.