“Throughout the pandemic, intellectual property protections have empowered rapid solutions delivery, prioritized consumer safety, and inspired cultural connectivity and development for people around the world.”
Starting a business is steeped with uncertainty, especially during a global pandemic. Small business owners are constantly running through the scenarios: Can I make payroll? Will I recoup my investment? Can I change my community for the better?
There are plenty of systems at play that tell them, “No.” It’s too difficult to get a loan; the commercial real estate market is too competitive; advertising and marketing is too expensive. Even so, there’s one system that sings a resounding, “Yes!”
That’s America’s intellectual property system.
Our nation’s intellectual property protections assure entrepreneurs that having a good idea is all the potential they need. It affords creators the possibility that their idea can hold value and become an asset, and even a livelihood. Whether it’s the lyrics to a new song or the algorithm behind a new app, intellectual property gives creators and innovators the ownership to develop their idea and then leverage that ownership into new products and services that benefit all of us.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. The path from mind to market is full of twists and turns. And yet, it’s well-traveled, because as intellectual property rights promise, the results can be transformative. Fortunately, reliable intellectual property rights put innovators and creators at the center of a healthy multi-stakeholder ecosystems making available a wealth of resources and partnerships to move an idea from concept to commercialization. The business community’s response to COVID-19 is the perfect case study.
Throughout the pandemic, intellectual property protections have empowered rapid solutions delivery, prioritized consumer safety, and inspired cultural connectivity and development for people around the world.
Patents have empowered rapid solutions delivery.
Already, the innovative biopharmaceutical sector has delivered several effective vaccines and therapeutics to combat coronavirus. The innovative medical technology industry has delivered scores of diagnostics tests. And all the while, scientists are conducting more than a thousand COVID-19-related clinical trials in local hospitals and universities across all 50 states.
Patents have enabled the incredible investments in these efforts because protecting uniqueness gives these products value – we’re talking billions of dollars of investment into years of research for a single drug. By defining clear, predictable rights, they’ve also enabled the fruitful collaboration between government and private sector that has spurred faster and broader access.
Trademarks have prioritized consumer safety.
Counterfeit goods – or goods that are sold under another name without the originator’s authorization – can be extremely dangerous. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals, including counterfeit vaccines, often contain no active ingredient, or, worse yet, may contain dangerous ingredients, like toxic chemicals and compounds. Counterfeit masks, for example, are made with inferior materials that don’t protect the wearer from disease transmission.
Trademarks make it easy for consumers to recognize trusted brands – like Pfizer or 3M – that offer tested products. They also help law enforcement officials prosecute bad actors who use those trademarks maliciously. In 2020 alone, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized millions of fake COVID-19-related products. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Copyright fuels cultural connectivity and development.
COVID-19 shuttered movie theaters, turned the lights out on Broadway, and cancelled concerts virtually overnight. But that hasn’t stopped creators from maintaining a near-constant stream of new content. Every night and every weekend, we’re able to enjoy the latest books, music, movies, and television shows safely at home.
That kind of output and access is only possible via strong copyright norms. The 2021 U.S. Chamber International IP Index found that countries with healthy copyright environments have twice the access to new music through secure platforms. On the publishing front, countries with healthy copyright environments have five times more knowledge output in academic journals.
Now more than ever, we should be viewing the global intellectual property system through a lens of celebration. That sentiment is even more salient today, on World Intellectual Property Day, created by the World Intellectual Property Organization to raise awareness about how patent, copyright, and trademark-protected products enhance daily life. But let’s do more than raise awareness, let’s raise appreciation, too.
Strong intellectual property protections are delivering us from the current pandemic, and they’ll help us defeat the next one by empowering America’s innovators and creators, small and large.
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