Today's guest blog is brought to you by the Director of the Global Intellectual Property Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Aaron Smethurst.
The basis of the intellectual property system is the granting of exclusive rights to innovators for a limited period of time in exchange for disclosing the invention to the public. This trade-off requires inventors essentially to provide instructions to the public on how to recreate his or her invention and increases the public knowledge pool in this field.
Not only does the patent system help create public access to new inventions and knowledge, but through efforts like WIPO Re:Search companies with patents on potentially powerful research can now more easily find partners to help develop new non-commercial products. For example, securing intellectual property on potential treatments for neglected diseases (e.g. malaria and tuberculosis) allows companies to more readily work with partners on combating these diseases which affect millions of people globally.
Holding a patent on an invention also does not necessarily mean that a product will have limited availability. The assurance of intellectual property rights promotes the development of new medicines, breakthrough technologies, and generation-defining creative works. Studies have shown that the absence of a comprehensive and robust IP framework prevents the ability for inventors to innovate, and therefore hamper public access to new inventions and creations.
There are different types of intellectual property, but the goal is the same: to help promote the development and diffusion of the arts and sciences for the benefit of the public. As our technology improves, so too does the complexity of developing these new technologies. The future of medical innovation, for example, will rely heavily on biologic medicines, which require a hugely complex, costly, and risky development process before treatments can be made available.
As our ability to create more complex technology evolves, so too does the need to ensure the protection of these inventions. The currently underway Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement will provide a framework for trade and innovation that will affect companies of all shapes and sizes in critical Asia-Pacific markets. Promoting the development of medicine by setting the standard for 12 years of regulatory data protection should continue to be a goal of all TPP Parties. Twelve years for biologic medicines, as set forth by U.S. law, is necessary to ensure that biopharmaceutical companies can continue to invest in developing the time and resource-intensive biomedical treatments that are improving wellbeing and saving lives.
It’s clear that IP delivers access to innovation such as breakthrough medical treatment that benefits the public health and provides good jobs to those employed by the vibrant U.S biomedical sector.