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Intellectual Property-Intensive Industries Contribute $5 Trillion, 40 Million Jobs to U.S. Economy

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Guest blog post by Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank

America’s entrepreneurs, businesses, and workers are the primary source of new ideas that drive innovation. Patents, trademarks and copyrights–the main protections in our IP system–are critical tools that help commercialize innovative, game-changing ideas, from advances in healthcare technology to improved consumer products. By creating a better environment for our private sector to capitalize those ideas, IP protections help foster the innovation and creativity that leads to a stronger economy and more jobs.

Today, the U.S. Commerce Department released a comprehensive report showing that intellectual property protections have a direct and significant impact on the U.S. economy. The report, entitled “Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus,” finds that IP-intensive industries support at least 40 million jobs and contribute more than $5.06 trillion dollars to, or nearly 34.8 percent of, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).

While IP is used in virtually every segment of the U.S. economy, our report identifies the 75 industries that use patent, copyright or trademark protections most extensively. These “IP-intensive” industries support more than a quarter of all jobs in the United States. Twenty-seven million of those are either on payroll or under employment contracts, working directly for the IP-intensive industries, and nearly 13 million more are indirectly supported through the supply chains that service these industries. In other words, every two jobs in IP-intensive industries support an additional job elsewhere in the economy. 

IP protections have a ripple effect in our private sector. They don’t solely benefit the company that applies for a patent. For example, a new patented technology in computer manufacturing could increase the demand for products in related industries, such as semiconductors. Likewise, a new patent-protected green technology can be used to help auto manufacturers build more energy-efficient cars.

However, IP protections aren’t just important for businesses and entrepreneurs–they are important for working families, too. IP-driven jobs are good jobs. Wages for jobs in IP-intensive industries are 42 percent higher on average than wages in other industries. These good-paying jobs help support economic security for America’s middle class, and they will continue to do so in the years to come.

Truly, the work to protect intellectual property is vital to maintaining America’s competitive edge and driving our overall prosperity. That’s why this administration is unleashing new innovations and new industries by advancing a robust framework of intellectual property protections for a global economy. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has already implemented seven provisions of the recently passed America Invents Act, which are enhancing the speed and quality of patent processing, connecting businesses with the tools they need to develop their technologies, and speeding up patent applications. Since President Obama took office, the backlog has been reduced by nearly 15 percent, despite the fact that patent filings in the U.S. grew five percent in FY 2011.

By re-engineering the IP system from the ground up, we are creating a 21st century innovation architecture that’s built to last and will help America remain a global leader going forward. Intellectual property is an important step toward achieving the Commerce Department’s mission of helping American businesses build things here and sell them everywhere around the globe.

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