US Industry IP Campaign Aims To Dispel Misconceptions About Commercial InterestsPublished on 31 July 2012 @ 2:03 pm
By Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch
Intellectual property promotion is at the heart of a new campaign launched yesterday by the United States Chamber of Commerce with the aim of convincing decision-makers and the public at large of the value of IP in economic and social terms, and dissipate some misconceptions.
“IP Delivers” http://www.ipdelivers.com/ aims at raising awareness about the importance of intellectual property as a factor of innovation and by extension job creation, economic growth, and consumer protection from organised crime, according to the Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC). The IP Center was established in 2007.
Speakers were invited to share their views on the initiative during its launch on 30 July. The main speaker, James Pooley, deputy director general, Innovation and Technology Sector at the World Intellectual Property Organization, hailed a “very much needed campaign.” Pooley was a successful US patent attorney before joining WIPO in the number two spot at the UN agency. [sentence deleted]
IP-intensive industry supports over 40 million jobs in the United States and contribute more than US$5 trillion to the US economy, he said, citing a recent US Department of Commerce study. Thus, IP “should be universally embraced and non-controversial,” but that is not the case, he said.
Among hotly debated issues he mentioned was the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) (IPW, Access to Knowledge, 13 July 2012), and the inclusion by the US of IP clauses in free trade agreements (IPW, Access to Knowledge, 27 June 2012).
Climate change discussions regularly include suggestions that the patent system be suspended to provide easier access to green technology (IPW, Patent Policy, 25 June 2012), he said, and negative views about IP “have even led to the establishment of a political party in Sweden, which unashamedly calls itself the Pirate Party.”
The main controversy, according to Pooley, comes from the “unavoidable tension that arises any time you grant exclusive rights,” but in many cases the restriction coming from those rights is “worth it for society as a whole.” The objective, he said, is always to strike the right balance of interests and “that requires that policymakers and thought leaders be well informed about how IP actually works.”
IP Adds Fuel Interest to the Fire of Genius
Citing US President Abraham Lincoln – himself owner of a patent – who said that the IP system adds the fuel of interest to the fire of genius, Pooley said this had been challenged by a number of people who found that innovations could have happened without the patent system. The problem with this argument, he said, is that there is no counterfactual scenario, and clear proof of a causal link between patenting and innovation cannot be proved one way or the other because there are too many variables.
“This leaves plenty of room for speculation and polemics about the social cost of patenting,” he said, “against which we are left with a pile of anecdotal evidence, more or less,” even if it is “a pretty big pile.”
However, the global IP system is not only about generating new ideas, Pooley said, but “very much about bringing those ideas to market” and in the globalised economy, business depends on IP as “the packaging that protects ideas during their journey from mind to market,” he said. Without IP, there would be much less investment, marketing, and establishment of distribution systems, he added. Innovation would remain as abstract ideas or would be held by businesses as trade secrets, Pooley said. Because all patents are published, they provide a database of evolving technology, he added.
Adam Mossoff, law professor at George Mason University, also invited to speak, said intellectual property was first and foremost a property right and implied the right to control the invention, the right to sell it or the right to give it away. “People invent all the time,” he said, but the IP system converts invention into innovations, he said.
The launch also featured Alden Zecha, chief financial officer and strategist for Sproxil Inc, a US-based company providing brand protection in emerging markets, and Raul Cuero, inventor and founder of International Park of Creativity, which aims to develop “creativity in teenagers to the service of the scientific and technologic production.”
Understandable IP, Different Perception
The main goals of the campaign, according to GIPC, are to raise awareness in favour of strong IP rights as a driver of innovation and creativity, and strengthen protection and enforcement in the US and abroad.
During the launch, David Hirschmann, president and CEO of the GIPC, said the concept of IP protection was not universally understood, and one of the aims of the IP Delivers campaign was to keep IP principles easy to grasp and to stay away from legal or technical jargon. “The more we talk about right holders … the less people understand,” he said.
The GIPC will participate in the World Trade Organization public forum in September as part of the campaign, Aaron Smethurst, director of international intellectual property at GIPC, told Intellectual Property Watch after the launch.
IP Delivers is an ongoing campaign said Smethurst, and the GIPC is working with the US Chamber of Commerce-affiliated organisations around the world to push the message out.
The core message of the campaign is that IP delivers innovation, and across many different areas, such as cancer, allergies, solar energy in rural areas in India, turbines for wind power blades, but also creative content, Smethurst told Intellectual Property Watch.
On the expected results of the campaign, Smethurst said “we really just want to start raising awareness,” and start at the basics, “make sure that there is a resource out on the internet that really shows real people using IP in different countries.”
Policymakers are a major target audience, such as diplomats in Geneva and decision-makers in capitals, he said. A bi-monthly newsletter will be sent to people registering on the IP Delivers mailing list on the website.
There is a “lot of extreme language that goes around IP,” he said but there are “a lot more ways to tell the story,” and the campaign aims at getting some reality into the discussion from people who rely on IP, he said.
There is an idea that “IP owners are a monolithic entity,” he said, that they are from developed countries, from the US or Europe and that they are large multinational companies. The hope is that “with the campaign we can really shed that issue and shed that perception, and provide a little bit of balance in the discussion in terms of who IP rules affect.”
William New contributed to this report.
Catherine Saez may be reached at email@example.com.