Charting the Course: Ranking the Players of Global Intellectual Property Rights

This morning, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released the 2nd edition of the GIPC (Global Intellectual Property Center) Intellectual Property Index, rating 25 of the world’s most vital economies on the strength of their intellectual property (IP) protection efforts. The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Singapore received the best scores; Vietnam, Thailand and India were rated as the weakest protectors. The ratings were based on a number of factors, from adherence to patent and copyright laws to participation in international treaties.

This report serves as a map that charts the biggest threats to U.S. success in the emerging global economy. Innovation has always been this country’s greatest export, driving progress and growth in all sectors, particularly advancements in medicine and technology. Without a guarantee that our nation’s greatest minds will have their ideas protected in foreign markets, incentive to continue investment in innovation dwindles, and the world loses out on the breakthroughs our ideas generate.

Some key takeaways from the GIPC’s 2014 IP Index

India remains the biggest global threat to IP protection by promoting compulsory licenses, retracting patents and failing to provide any effective enforcement mechanism to curb IP infringement. “One of our greatest challenges is going to be anti-IP rhetoric, a lot of which comes from India,” said Elaine Wu, Attorney-Advisor at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office at a GIPC Index panel discussion. “Trying to find a way to get a positive message out is going to be very important; we can align ourselves with governments and IP offices elsewhere that have a more positive approach to IP.”

The report also defines the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as the most significant opportunity to improve the state of IP protections. Ten of the twelve countries included in the index are participants in the TPP, including Vietnam, which is rated among the least cooperative countries in IP protection. Senator Orrin Hatch reiterated the importance of IP to U.S. trade in his keynote address at the 2014 GIPC Index unveiling: “Protecting American innovation is not optional, it is fundamental to our nation’s economic future,” said Hatch. “It is more important than ever for the United States to assert a bold trade agenda that paves the way for our innovators to flourish overseas.”

Moving forward in TPP talks and other trade-related negotiations, the U.S. must remember the crucial role our ideas play in distinguishing this nation as a global economic leader. Failing to protect intellectual property will jeopardize our ability to innovate­, which would be a monumental setback for the global economy and citizenry.      

Ainsley Shea