Labor, business join forces to protect intellectual property

40 million U.S. jobs linked to IP use

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Almost 1 in 3 jobs in the United States directly or indirectly depends on companies that use intellectual property, according to a new study released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday.

The report, released with the nation’s leading business lobbyist and labor leader in attendance, found that IP-intensive industries support at least 40 million jobs and account for almost $5 trillion to U.S. GDP alone.

“The data released in the new report will contribute even more to what we already know about IP’s role in our economy,” said Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Prepared by the Economics and Statistics Administration and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the statement found that exports from IP-intensive industries totaled $775 billion in 2010, or 60.7 percent of merchandise exports.

Some of the most IP-intensive industries surveyed by the report were computers and peripheral equipment, audio and video equipment manufacturing, newspaper and book publishers, plus pharmaceuticals and medicines.

“These IP-intensive industries directly accounted for 27.1 million American jobs, or 18.8 percent of all employment in the economy, in 2010,” according the report.

The study also found a correlation between patents and jobs. Rebecca Blank, deputy secretary of commerce said that for every two jobs in IP-intensive industries, another job was generated elsewhere in the economy.

“The most patent-intensive industry, computers and peripheral equipment, has 277 patents for every 1,000 jobs,” she noted.

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, was one of a number of panelists at an event organized by the White House Wednesday who said U.S. intellectual property rights are under threat domestically and abroad. Mr. Trumka said that if China offered the same level of protection for intellectual property rights that the United States did, another 923,000 jobs would be created in the U.S.

“It’s clear that IP needs greater protection,” said Secretary of Commerce John E. Bryson, calling for congressional action on legislation to streamline the processing and quality of patent applications.

But the U.S. movie industry and other entertainment sectors say they are still concerned that their products are being pirated both at home and abroad and are looking to the government for protection after the Stop Online Piracy Act was struck down earlier this year.

“U.S. protections for American intellectual property simply do not effectively address foreign rogue websites that steal movies, TV shows, and music,” said Mr. Trumka.

As part of President Obama’s initiative to stop unfair trading practices, the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center has cracked down on IP thieves and copyright violators, administration officials said.

At the start of the year, the Department of Justice arrested seven individuals hosting Megaupload.com in a widely noted copyright infringement case. U.S. investigators say that the case involved over $175 million in illegal profits.

“The future of America’s economic condition rests squarely on the shoulders of our ability to protect the American innovator,” said Victoria Espinel, coordinator of efforts to enforce intellectual property rights in the Office of Management and Budget.

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