Infinite Possibilities: Defining the Global Value of Intellectual Property in 2016

By 
Pat Rosenstiel

From the medication that keeps your heart pumping every day to the Oscar nominees that move us year after year, America’s brainpower is our greatest export. At the core of our economy are the intellectual assets that make America’s world-class pharmaceuticals, entertainment and technology possible. Sadly, our creativity and innovation risk theft everyday in a global market that is increasingly harder to regulate.

Intellectual property (IP) infringement is an irrefutable threat to the future of American business.

Last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center released its 4th Annual Global Intellectual Property Index, and the numbers pointed to one fact: strong IP protections = strong economic growth for everyone. Ranking 25 of the world’s most vital economies on the strength of their IP protections, the index provides a thorough examination of the impact these measures have.

The effects of IP enforcement are far ranging, from improvements in the quality of jobs available to a nation’s workforce to greater entrepreneurial inventiveness. The index shows that economies that protect IP have 2-1/2 times more high-caliber jobs in Research & Development than those who do not.  Additionally, the top 10 ranked countries in the index demonstrated patenting rates that were 30 times greater than those in the bottom 10 of the list.

Thirty-eight countries where detailed in the report, representing nearly 85 percent global gross domestic product. The United States was ranked in first place, followed by the UK, Germany and France. Venezuela finished last, proceeded by India, Thailand and Vietnam. Each country included on the list was evaluated by 30 critical criteria measuring their commitment to innovation including, patent, copyright and trademark protections, enforcement, and engagement in international treaties, among others.

Most importantly, the report lays the roadmap for actionable steps America and our trading partners can take to improve IP standards across the globe. The easiest path to improving the global IP environment is through clearly articulated standards for IP protection in all international trade agreements. For example, successfully ratifying the Trans Pacific Partnership in a way that standardizes IP protections held by America with our trading partners will raise each participating country’s placement on the index – including Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and other nations that have continuously underperformed on this issue.

If America is to successfully thrive in a new era of globalization, marked by the dismantling of traditional borders and the lightning pace of the Internet, we must hold protecting IP as our highest priority for national security and economic prosperity.