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Intellectual property (IP) is everywhere and for everyone. It’s not some cheesy slogan or propaganda. It’s a data-supported fact. Whether directly or indirectly, society engages with IP on a daily basis, and IP-intensive industries contribute significantly to local, regional, national, and global economies.
Every year on April 26th, pro-IP advocates celebrate and reiterate the vital role IP plays in enabling innovators and creators. Although skeptics call IP an “elite concern,” recent reports from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), and the European Patent Office (EPO) show the positive impact IP has on small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), overall employment, and regional and global economies.
In March 2022, the USPTO Office of the Chief Economist released “Intellectual property and the U.S. economy: Third edition.” The study examines industries in 2019 whose “IP intensity is greater than the IP intensity for the economy as a whole,” recognizing that IP does not exist solely within an IP-intensive industry vacuum. Highlights from this report include:
- IP-intensive industries accounted for 63 million jobs (44 percent of all U.S. employment) by directly supporting over 47 million jobs (about 33 percent of all U.S. employment), and indirectly supporting 15.5 million jobs (about 11 percent);
- Employees in IP-intensive industries are more likely to earn higher wages, work in larger companies, be veterans, and participate in employer-sponsored benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans; and
- Copyright-intensive industries paid the highest wages and grew their output rate faster overall than the rest of the domestic economy.
Similarly, a February 2021 report by the EUIPO and EPO reviewed European firm-level data on trademarks, designs, and patents from 2007-2019. Highlights from this report include:
- Companies owning IP generate 20 percent higher revenues per employee and pay 19 percent higher wages on average compared to companies without an IP portfolio;
- IP-intensive firms contributed 29 percent of employment and 45 percent of GDP in the European Union;
- SMEs which rely on IP appear to generate 68 percent higher revenues per employee; and
- Patent owners gain 36 percent higher revenue per employee and offer 53 percent higher wages, while designs provide 32 percent higher revenue and 30 percent higher wages, and trademarks offer 21 percent higher revenue and 27 percent higher wages.
Another EUIPO report from January 2022 reviewed IP-intensive industries in five Latin American countries: Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay. Although data availability differed across the countries (no information is provided for copyright-intensive industries in Mexico or Peru), the findings are still significant. Highlights from this report include:
- On average, IP-intensive industries account for more than half of all industries for which there is economic data in these countries (73 percent in Peru, 62 percent in Argentina, 58 percent in Chile, 54 percent in Mexico, and 42 percent in Uruguay);
- The GDP contributions of IP-intensive industries are 55 percent in Peru, 49.9 percent in Chile, 48.9 percent in Uruguay, 47.8 percent in Mexico, and 41.9 percent in Argentina, for an overall average of 47.7 percent;
- In general, trademark-intensive industries are balanced between the service and manufacturing sectors, and patent- and design-intensive industries are predominantly found in the manufacturing sector (except in Uruguay where patent-intensive industries are dominated by service and commerce, including some agricultural activities);
- Approximately 66 percent of all IP-intensive industries in Peru utilize more than one type of IP, followed by 57 percent in Argentina, 44 percent in Mexico, 37 percent in Chile, and 31 percent in Uruguay; and
- IP-intensive industries in Peru contribute 84 percent of all exported goods, followed by 74.7 percent in Mexico, 73.3 percent in Chile, 56.4 percent in Argentina, and 44 percent in Uruguay.
Gaming, music, books, movies, art, theater, poetry, software, short stories, and so many more creative endeavors are enabled by copyright. Creativity has connected mankind for millennia, and the world continues consuming and connecting via the output of these industries at exponential rates. Patents, trademarks, and trade secrets also contribute greatly to the overall well-being of global society. Many of the breakthrough industries and business models which society has come to rely on exist because of IP, including biotech, clean tech, e-books, streaming, telecommunications, and online video and gaming platforms.
Fewer people die from common ailments, start-ups can raise capital to continue innovating, and farmers in drought-ridden countries can plant drought-resistant crops, all thanks to industries enabled by patents. Your favorite brands—and knowing the product is legitimate rather than a potentially harmful counterfeit—are enabled by trademarks. Next time you enjoy a Coca-Cola or your favorite “secret sauce,” remember it is enabled by trade secrets. (Yes, even the recipe your grandmother is taking to her grave.) That song or poem hidden in your notebook, your favorite podcast, and the books on your reading list are all copyright-enabled.
IP is for everyone, and the social, economic, and employment contributions of IP-intensive industries are undeniable. It’s time the world stops telling creators and innovators to “get a real job” and starts recognizing how many real (and high-paying) jobs exist because of IP-enabled industries.