This week marks the 18th annual World Intellectual Property Day. The World Intellectual Property Organization established World IP Day in 2000 to honor creative and innovative industries and to increase public knowledge of the important role that IP plays in our everyday lives.
Intellectual property such as patents, copyrights, and data protections ensure that creators and innovators can own and monetize their creations. IP prevents rivals from stealing innovators’ ideas — whether it’s the lyrics to a chart-topping song, the findings in a scholarly journal article, or the formula for a lifesaving medicine. Without IP protections, people and companies would have no incentive to invest time and money bringing valuable new products to market.
Modern life wouldn’t be possible without IP. The medications people take, the books they read, and the movies and television shows they watch all rely on intellectual property.
The U.S. economy relies on IP, too. Copyright-intensive industries generated $1.2 trillion in economic activity in 2015, including $10.3 billion and $15 billion for the film and recording industries, respectively. Copyright-intensive industries also grew at more than two times the annual rate of the entire U.S. economy from 2012 to 2015. In addition, the biopharmaceutical sector alone contributed $1.3 trillion to the U.S. GDP in 2016.
IP-intensive industries are also some of America’s biggest job creators, currently supporting nearly 58 million U.S. jobs and paying workers approximately 45 percent more than non-IP intensive industries.
These same IP-intensive sectors also help shrink the U.S. trade deficit. They account for more than half of all U.S. exports and are one of the few sectors of the economy that has more exports than imports.
World IP Day reminds us that we must pursue policies that allow these industries to thrive.
We should start by modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement to protect 21st century IP.
Canada, the United States, and Mexico implemented this trade pact more than 20 years ago. At that time, MP3 files didn’t exist. We were four years away from the introduction of WiFi, and biologic medicine development was in its infancy.
Today, all of these innovations have revolutionized our everyday lives. But some trade agreements like NAFTA don’t provide the proper protections for intellectual property. That leaves products and ideas vulnerable to theft, piracy, counterfeiting, and more — which undermines the ability of our creators and innovators to get a fair return for their work.
It’s time to update our trade deals to include stronger protections for IP to ensure that the United States is at the forefront of the next generation of creation and innovation.
Brian Pomper is the executive director of ACTION for Trade.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.