Obama Must Do More to Protect the Intellectual Property Industry

The Obama administration needs to protect the industry's creativity and innovation.

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Items related to intellectual property are now such an important part of the total U.S. economy they deserve closer scrutiny.

According to a new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center, intellectual property-intensive industries in the United States support 55 million jobs, account for 74 percent of total U.S. exports, and are responsible for $5.8 trillion in total output, which is over a third of the U.S. gross domestic product.

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Conducted by NDP Consulting, the Chamber of Commerce study measured intellectual property-intensive companies "by inputs such as research and development expenditures, the number of scientist and engineer personnel, and by outputs such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights across all 50 states and the District of Columbia." The numbers, which build on a recent U.S. Department of Commerce study, expand the data down to the industry's impact at the state level, the Global Intellectual Property Center said. An interactive map with fact sheets for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia is located here.

"This first-of-its-kind study shows that intellectual property-intensive companies have a direct and significant impact on jobs, productivity, and competitiveness in every state of the union," said Mark Elliot, the Global Intellectual Property Center's executive vice president. "Intellectual property's economic contributions are evident across all states, large and small. For instance, nearly 90 percent of Delaware's exports originate from IP-intensive companies as do half of Iowa's private sector jobs. In Kansas, IP-intensive companies produce $51.1 billion in output."

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"Recent research by the Department of Commerce has shown that innovation and creativity are key drivers for economic growth and prosperity, with intellectual property-intensive industries driving America's jobs and productivity," Elliot said. "Our study expands this data to capture the economic value of intellectual property outside the supply chain. This report makes the benefits of IP tangible, demonstrating that a wide cross-section of industries employing tens of millions of Americans reaching every corner of the U.S. hinge on intellectual property rights and enforcement thereof."

The study is timely and necessary. Every year millions of dollars are lost to intellectual property pirates located outside the United States who use the web to sell counterfeit copies of U.S. manufactured products like movies, pharmaceuticals, and software. The intellectual property industry is being dogged by criminal enterprises that are profiting off its legitimate activities, making millions off someone else's creativity and innovation. Congress and the Obama administration need to pay more attention to this problem and come up with a reasonable way to deal with it.

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  • Corrected on 5/30/2012: A previous version of this blog post misstated the portion of the U.S. gross domestic product for which intellectual property-intensive industries are responsible. They are responsible for 38 percent of the total U.S. gross domestic product.