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Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy

U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel announces the release of a first-of-its-kind report that identifies the full range of sectors that generate intellectual property, as well as the jobs, exports, and wage premiums those sectors support.

America has always been a nation of innovators. Throughout our history, we’ve produced countless groundbreaking innovations, from Henry Ford’s assembly line to’s internet sales model, from Edison’s light bulb to Bell Labs’ transistor, from General Electric’s jet engines to Google’s internet tools. And to create an economy that’s built to last, the President has made clear that we must continue to lead the world when it comes to innovation.

The President has also said that protecting the intellectual property underpinning that innovation is an economic imperative that his Administration takes very seriously. As he made clear in his State of the Union Address, our workers are the most productive on Earth, and if the playing field is level, America will always win.

We are a data-driven government and it’s important that we understand the impact that intellectual property has on our economy. Today, I am proud to report that the U.S. Department of Commerce, working with the President’s Council of Economic Advisors and the chief economists of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Department of Labor, and other Federal agencies, is releasing an economic report identifying the full range of sectors that generate intellectual property, as well as the jobs, exports, and wage premiums those sectors support. This study is the first of its kind.  Never before has the U.S. Government produced a report at this scale that details the nature and impact of intellectual property across the entire American economy. The report, Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus, is available here.

As the study shows, intellectual property is a key driver of our economy. The report found that IP-intensive industries create 27.1 million jobs and indirectly support another 12.9 million jobs. All told, nearly 30 percent of all U.S. jobs are directly or indirectly attributable to the IP-intensive industries. 

These are jobs that pay well. The average weekly wage in the IP-intensive industries overall is 42% higher by 2010 and its 73% for patent industry jobs and 77% for copyright industry jobs. 

Intellectual property is also critical to our balance of trade: goods from the IP-intensive industries account for 60% of all US exports. And in 2010 alone, IP-intensive industries accounted for about $5.06 trillion in value added, or 34.8 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.  

It doesn’t stop there: the entire U.S. economy relies on some form of intellectual property, because virtually every industry either produces intellectual property or uses it.

When I issued the Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement in June 2010, we promised to explore ways to measure the economic contributions of IP-intensive industries across all U.S. business sectors. We made that promise because improved measures of intellectual property -- coupled with measures of economic performance -- will help the Federal Government better understand the role IP plays in our economy. With today’s release of our new report, we’ve made good on that promise, and taken an important step forward in our effort to protect American innovation and create an economy that’s build to last.

Victoria Espinel is the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator