World IP Day: Celebrate American Jobs, Innovation, and Prosperity

Apr 26, 2012

Look around a kitchen and you will find countless examples of IP, from the technologies in your faucet to the recipe in the cooking magazine you’re looking at is protected by copyrights.

Note: This article originally appeared on the Global Intellectual Property Center blog.

Today, as we celebrate the 12th annual World Intellectual Property Day, we find ourselves reflecting on the heightened dialogue surrounding intellectual property (IP) over the past year. What has become very evident is the fact that so few people—from elected officials, to the public, to business leaders—actually know what IP is.

They may not seem so important, but patents, trademarks, and copyrights make up a very important element of our economic and social well-beings. Fundamentally, these forms of IP protect the legal rights of creators and innovators, but they also create significant spillover effects that impact almost every part of our daily lives.

That is why today, on World IP Day, the Global IP Center is launching an educational “IP 101” toolkit to explain exactly what IP is and how we experience it every day.

Take your kitchen, for example. When you’re searching your cupboard, you may not be looking for IP, but almost everything you see is a product of intellectual property. That favorite box of cookies is trademarked. The technologies in your faucet, blender, and stove that took perhaps decades to refine are patented or have patented components. The cooking magazine you’re thumbing through is protected by copyrights.

These aren’t meant to confuse you, but to make sure you are consuming, operating, and interacting with trusted brands and products. The individuals and companies that create these products invest a lot of time and resources into ensuring that they provide the safest, most-innovative handicrafts for you and your family.

Another important by-product of the innovative process is employment. According to the recently released Department of Commerce study, IP-intensive industries—which span an incredible 75 industries of diverse nature—employ nearly 40-million Americans, which accounts for over a quarter of the total workforce. The jobs of scientists, camera operators, sound mixers, cookie manufacturers, and microchip makers all have a tie-in to intellectual property.

In turn, strong employment in IP-intensive industries reinforces the strength of our economy. Goods made from these innovators make up 34.8% of the U.S. GDP at an astounding $5.06 trillion. Not to mention that these innovative products drive the lion-share of our exports, accounting for over 60% of merchandise exports.

A system promoting strong IP rights and protections is utterly necessary to continue our history of innovation and economic excellence. While IP is a valuable asset, it is not unique to the United States. Every country around the world brings something new and different to the table. From developing to developed, these nations bring new ways of thinking, new ways of innovating, and new ways improving the world for the better. Promoting strong IP in turn promotes a forward-thinking and innovative economy and populace.

We here at the GIPC believe that understanding the fundamentals of intellectual property advances good decisions on IP. As stewards of IP, we are proud to present this educational toolkit to better inform those making decisions and those being affected by these decisions, whether what’s at stake is your employment, health, social enrichment, or otherwise. Sound IP policies are not a luxury, they are a necessity.

Mark Elliot is the executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC). He also contributed a piece to The Hill today in celebration of World IP Day. To read that op-ed, please click here.

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