State of American Business: Intellectual Property and Jobs

Jan 15, 2010

Throughout time, innovation and creativity have been the catalyst for our economic and cultural growth and scientific advancements—from novel medicines that save lives and "green technologies" that will help protect the environment, to the movies, music and software that define America. We owe much of this to a robust system of intellectual property (IP) rights—the framework of laws and policies that encourage innovation, rewards entrepreneurs, protects one's ideas, drives economic growth and competitiveness, and creates and supports jobs. 

This week, in his annual State of American Business address, U.S. Chamber president and CEO Tom Donohue laid out a plan to help create jobs and revive America's economy. One key element of this plan is to continue promoting and defending the current global system of international IP laws and norms. As Tom noted in his address:

"We must also vigorously protect our intellectual property. The theft of IP costs our nation hundreds of thousands of jobs, threatens consumer safety, and puts our leadership in innovation at risk."

Tom couldn't be more spot on. America's economic growth depends on innovation and the strong intellectual property rights that safeguard it. America's IP is valued at over $5 trillion, more than the GDP of any other country. Intellectual property also accounts for more than half of all U.S. exports, helping drive 40 percent of U.S. economic growth. America's IP-intensive industries, such as pharmaceuticals, entertainment, computers, and electronics, have created jobs—over 18 million of them—and IP job creation is expected to grow faster than the national average over the next decade.

Intellectual property is equally critical on the state level as well. Nevada, for example, is home to a large number of innovative startup companies, and was ranked first nationally in job creation by the 2007 Kauffman Institute New Economy Index. 

In 2007 and 2008, film and television production in Louisiana contributed $316 million in local wages, and in 2008, the number of businesses that were involved with copyrighted works grew to almost 6,300—an increase of 12.1 percent from the previous year. Additionally, Louisiana hi-tech industry workers earn an average of $17,495— more per year than other private sector workers.

In Wisconsin, innovative industries employ more than 80,000 high-tech workers and nearly 10,000 doctoral scientists and engineers. The software industry alone employs nearly 4,500 people and contributes almost $300 million in wages to the Wisconsin's economy.

Finally, in Florida, the innovative economy supports 20,000 doctoral scientists and engineers and more than 276,000 high-tech workers, making the Sunshine State the 4th in the nation in terms of high-tech employment. 

It is a no-brainer that IP rights play an integral role in driving the economy of every state in the U.S., and they cannot be taken for granted. Innovation and creativity will continue to improve our lives and create jobs, contributing to America's economic recovery and global competitiveness. It is American ingenuity at its best, and it is one of our greatest assets.  

Note: For more information on how innovation, creativity and intellectual property impact your State, please visit the Chamber's Global IP Center at

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