World Intellectual Property Day Celebrates Innovation
April 26 was World Intellectual Property (IP) Day which launched a week of virtual events celebrating the sustainable technology made possible by IP. To mark the occasion, the International Property Rights Alliance released its annual letter to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Director-General, saluting the profound impact IP has on our lives and economies. Underscoring the importance of scientific and technological development during the pandemic, the letter has a record 93 organizational signers from 49 countries. ALEC is, once again, proud to be among the signatories. Concepts the letter highlights include:
- IP promotes economic growth
- IP rights inspire innovation across sectors
- IP rights protect against counterfeits
- IP rights support trade
IP’s power to generate economic growth domestically and globally is well documented. A 2015 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study demonstrates the link between robust intellectual property rights (IPR) regimes and a nation’s economic performance, observing that countries enforcing IPR “support innovation by making it a more worthwhile investment and encouraging knowledge diffusion.” Nearly 28 million Americans work in IP-intensive sectors, and they enjoy wages that trend 46% higher than those in other industries. These ideas were amplified in ALEC’s recently filed Amicus Brief for the Supreme Court case Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc.
ALEC is acutely aware of the human and economic consequences of counterfeits. This is detailed in the ALEC articles Filtering Out Counterfeits and Spotlight on Counterfeits, as well as ALEC model policy. Additionally, trade in counterfeit and pirated goods total $1.7 trillion annually, costing the world’s economies 5.4 million jobs. IPR enforcement is the first line of defense against counterfeit products. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals, brightly colored toys with toxic pigments and aeronautical parts, including for military planes, are a limited sampling of counterfeit items that can put peoples’ health and lives at risk.
IPR do indeed support trade, and trade frameworks are an unmatched opportunity to enhance the IP policies of America’s economic partners. In order to maximize this aspect of strengthening IPR protections and enforcement, the US Trade Representative Office (USTR) must ensure that all trade agreements negotiated by the United States contain robust IP provisions. The US-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which ALEC supports, has one of the strongest IP chapters of any trade agreement in existence today. ALEC applauded the signing into law of the recently negotiated US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and the rationale for this support is detailed in our statement here. The statement also articulates some disappointment in USMCA’s IP section.
The Property Rights Alliance letter articulates many of the reasons for its signatories’ strong support for IPR protections. However, future iterations might also include a section on IPR as natural rights. America’s Constitutional Framers considered IPR so essential that they enshrined them in the US Constitution in Article I, Section 8.
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and discoveries.
The Framers’ concept of IPR has informed everything from the Federalist Papers to Supreme Court decisions and holds that inventors create property in both tangible and intangible forms. Like all property rights, the government has a duty to protect IPR. A more thorough examination of this topic from ALEC can be found in Intellectual Property Rights Are Natural Rights.
To weather COVID-19, creative solutions and the intellectual property that underpin them are needed now more than ever. IPR is vital in protecting new innovation and discoveries that will help to solve our current challenges.