Intellectual Property: Important to the Founders; Important to U.S.

“Innovation and IP are what we do.”

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These words, spoken by former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez at last week’s Global Intellectual Property Rights Summit, encapsulate the importance of intellectual property to the U.S. economy. Innovation has facilitated U.S. economic growth from our country’s very founding. Our Founding Fathers had the foresight to include protections into the Constitution, embedding this idea into the nation’s framework. This legacy has created a country of inventors. However, maintaining U.S. economic leadership requires the cultivation an environment that empowers innovators to invest and take a risk on innovation.

Strong intellectual property rights facilitate investment in new technologies, inventions, and innovations across the economy. As a result, these innovations bolster our economic growth and create high-quality jobs in vital sectors. In fact, intellectual property directly links to 35% of U.S. GDP and 74% of exports. IP-intensive industries also support 40 million jobs in the United States, with average wages 30% higher than in other industries. Whether in biotechnology or fashion, IP industries attract the most entrepreneurial and innovative minds in the country.

Intellectual property impacts nearly every aspect of life. Just take a look at this video produced by Crop Life International for some of the lesser-known places IP pops up in your everyday life.

This diverse range of industries and innovations help drive growth in all 50 states. At the Summit, Congressman George Holding of North Carolina stressed how innovation has helped make Raleigh the 5th fastest growing city in America. “In North Carolina, intellectual property has been hugely, hugely important.” Across the country, innovation hubs benefit from strong U.S. IP laws, but these protections must exist at the international level as well. Trade agreements, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), hold the perfect opportunity to promote growth in North Carolina, throughout the U.S., and around the world.

Intellectual property drives the U.S. economy by allowing innovation to flourish. These rights must be protected, in the U.S. and abroad, to ensure that the best and brightest minds can continue to invest in the innovative products and ideas that will catapult us into the future.