Guest Blog: IP Delivers Jobs

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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.

Quick – what images come to mind when you hear “intellectual property (IP)?” It’s likely you will recall the myriad of products dependant on creative and innovative work: medicines, technologies, movies, gadgets, and novels. But how often do we consider the economic elements which came together to deliver these IP-centric products?

Every breakthrough product and creative work potentially represents the collaborative work of dozens people. In the pharmaceutical industry, consider how many people contributed to the simple act of a patient taking her daily medicine. From the initial research done in laboratories to the delivery of the final products to pharmacies across the country, thousands of workers are required to make treatment of disease safe and convenient. Scientists, doctors, lab technicians, manufacturers, marketing experts, and logistics experts all ensure that our daily doses are high quality, affordable, and available.

The path from research lab to medicine cabinet is not a simple one either; most compounds never leave the processes of drug discovery, preclinical testing, new drug application, and clinical trials. For treatments that pass all the tests and trails, the process takes on average 10-15 years from discovery to market. All the while during this testing period, the 20-year patent right period on the treatment continues to tick down.

Without the promise of IP protection for patents, trademarks, or copyrights, we lose the ability to safely and securely employ all the professionals whose jobs are linked both directly and indirectly to innovative and creative works. In the U.S. alone, this IP-intensive employment pool makes up 46% of private sector jobs. In short, IP Delivers Jobs.

This means that more than 55 million American workers show up to work every day to research, develop, and market products that will save lives, enhance our wellbeing, and enrich society.

This also means that there are serious consequences to IP theft, which directly undermines these jobs. It’s tough to justify high production costs and investing in human capital when criminals are sitting at the finish line waiting to knock-off your innovation and deprive you of your ability to recoup costs.

We believe pursuing smart IP policies both here and overseas helps increase access to new technologies and products and increases employment. Intellectual property rights are only useful if there is adequate respect and enforcement to back them up in the global marketplace. This is why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center recently launched a new international educational campaign, titled IP Delivers.

We believe that the first step to respecting intellectual property is to understand exactly what it is and how it delivers benefits to the global society, especially in the form of jobs like yours and mine and innovative products that benefit the American public such as new medicines. We invite you to join us at to see infographics, helpful studies, and Voices of IP interviews that demonstrate the immense importance of pursuing modern IP standards around the world.