NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Importance of Intellectual Property Protection to the U.S. Economy

September 3, 2015

In 2010, intellectual property (IP), defined as "creations of the mind" such as inventions, designs, literary and artistic works, generated nearly $5.06 trillion, roughly 35 percent of annual GDP. Since IP is a significant portion of the U.S. economy and as the general trend of dependence on IP products increases, protection of IP rights overseas should be a priority, says research associate Gene Lattus of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

The World Trade Organization established the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to oversee minimum standards of protection for IP and mediate disputes between member nations. Unfortunately, although annual theft of U.S. IP is estimated at $250 billion, enforcement efforts are not due to government pressure but high-profile retailers such as Beats Electronics, Apple and Taylor Swift.

  • IP-intensive industries in the U.S. account for 27.1 million jobs.
  • China and India are both on the U.S. Trade Representatives "301 Priority Watch List" for global state of IP protection and enforcement.
  • From 1995-2000 the U.S. filed 17 IP-related complaints under TRIPS, but only one complaint since 2007.
  • The Anti-Counterfeiting Act (2011) was signed by only eight countries.

While developing countries often argue that strict IP rules promote the interests of rich nations over poor ones, studies show that increasing IP rights protection actually leads to higher levels of economic development in poor countries. Attention to the protection of U.S. IP rights internationally is critical for continued development and international cooperation.

Source:  Gene Lattus, "The Importance of Intellectual Property Protection to the U.S. Economy," National Center for Policy Analysis, September 3, 2015.

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