Pharmaceutical firms may not receive the a return on their substantial investments into a life-saving drug, and in turn, forgo employing staff necessary to achieve such results. Who would want to dedicate the decade of research and development that typically goes into a single treatment if they feel their IP will not be honored, thereby depriving them of the ability to recoup that investment? Or an author could shelve his latest novel because it simply isn’t feasible to make a living in an environment where digital piracy not only prevails, but is accepted as truth.
America’s most creative minds and businesses must make tough financial decisions based on the integrity of their property rights. These decisions could greatly impact the employment of a huge population of American workers. According to a recently released study by the Department of Commerce, IP-intensive industries are responsible for the creation of nearly 28 percent of the U.S. workforce, paying wages 42 percent higher than those in non-IP-intensive industries.
Strong IP also benefits consumers to ensure they are receiving safe, well-tested, and thoroughly researched products. Every day, you, your friends, and neighbors must decide on the authenticity and safety of products to bring into your homes. Unfortunately, counterfeiters and digital thieves are sophisticated and can deceive us into purchasing counterfeit clothes, pharmaceuticals, or electronics that do not meet recognized safety standards or downloading pirated movies and music that could facilitate malicious computer viruses or identity theft.
It’s time to get back to the basics on just what IP is, how it positively affects consumers, creates jobs, and promotes an innovative future. That is why today the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global IP Center released an educational toolkit to help people understand the different types of IP and how it benefits society.
Ultimately, we hope that innovators won’t be forced to make the decision between the costs of IP theft and gainful employment. But to reach this point, Congress and the administration must decide to back the property rights of these individuals and industries that make-up nearly 35 percent of our GDP and over 60 percent of exports. This includes ensuring adequate enforcement at our borders—both physical and cyber, promoting gold-standard IP protections in trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, and expanding tools and leading by example for international enforcement of IP rights.
A 21st century American economy deserves 21st century intellectual property rights and protections. IP, from time and time again, delivers jobs, economic prosperity, and life-changing innovations. It’s important to understand the fundamentals and not get spooked by the anti-IP rhetoric. After all, strong IP is not a luxury, it is a necessity.
Mark Elliot is executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center.