IP in the US Presidential Debates

There was one reference to patents in this week’s debate between President Obama and his challenger Governor Romney:

CROWLEY: iPad, the Macs, the iPhones, they are all manufactured in China. One of the major reasons is labor is so much cheaper here. How do you convince a great American company to bring that manufacturing back here?

ROMNEY: The answer is very straightforward. We can compete with anyone in the world as long as the playing field is level. China’s been cheating over the years. One by holding down the value of their currency. Number two, by stealing our intellectual property; our designs, our patents, our technology. There’s even an Apple store in China that’s a counterfeit Apple store, selling counterfeit goods. They hack into our computers. We will have to have people play on a fair basis, that’s number one.

20 thoughts on “IP in the US Presidential Debates

  1. 20

    Of course the treaties say explicity ‘no cheating’ – not in those exact words, but in words along the lines of ‘thou shall respect our intellectual property’. The US is well known for asserting its IP rights all around the world

  2. 19

    This misses (critically in my view) the understanding that such a “loss-leader” low paying job is connected to the higher paying jobs we ARE concerned about.

    From personal experience, I witnessed the transfer of manufacturing followed by the transferring of engineering – with the proffered reason that engineering had to be able to closely interact withanufacturing (of course the same disparity in pay rates occurs with engineering jobs, so the exact same mechanism really is in play).

    As for strength of IP law, there is a natural evolution in play for China – very reminiscent of US “thievery” of copyrighted material early in our nation’s history. It is no surprise that China “steals” as much IP as they can. Further, it is no surprise that as China uses that “stolen” up to bolster its national capability, the role of stronger IP laws in China will reach a stronger and stronger audience there.

  3. 18

    Obama was reported to have asked Jobs that exact question.

    link to nytimes.com

    It has nothing to do with what they talked about during the debate. And Romney got the IP piece backward. Bad IP protection in China is actually a reason that makes company stay in the US. If IP protection is strong and fair in China, you can bet more companies will feel comfortable setting up operations in China instead of practicing their crown jewel process State side.

    Also, most reports suggest that the fake Kungmin Apple store in China was selling genuine Apple product. Apple made money on the sale of those units, and Apple got free advertizing. It may be a copycat store but the damage is not job loss in the U.S.

  4. 14

    Nice quote – do you really think it applies to this situation?

    Says a lot. Not what you think it says, but says a lot.

  5. 13

    Good luck trying to get China to respect our IP rights now that they have both our factories (that manufacture products for Apple, Seagate and everyone…) and our money (national debt). There is a portion of the male anatomy comes to mind that they can squeeze if necessary.

  6. 12

    Being too literal doesn’t make you smart.

    “Anyone who says that they’re great at communicating but ‘people are bad at listening’ is confused about how communication works.” – Randall Munroe

  7. 11

    Care to broaden your analytical and comparative powers?

    Being too literal doesn’t make you smart. It doesn’t even make you a smart @$$. It just makes you an @$$.

  8. 10

    Why so you think we have a tax code?

    The tax code keeps China from holding down the value of their currency and stealing our technology? Care to elaborate?

  9. 9

    Why so you think we have a tax code?

    It’s not just a “hey, no cheating,” it’s a “hey, no cheating like that (but see section xx.dd.4dfr.yyy or section yy.rrr.7df.zzz)”

  10. 7

    “Great” corporations don’t let little things like “nationality” get in the way of important things like profit.

    Provincial concepts like “duty to nation” or morality are easily trumped by amorality in view of expediency.

  11. 5

    Lots of stores and companies keep their operations entirely or primarily in America and advertise that fact. I wonder what the big difference is between the people who own those companies and the people who run “great” corporations.

  12. 4

    Let’s hope if the Republicans take back the White House they can find better PTO heads than we had during Bush 43.

    For people supposedly encouraging the businesses, the sure found a way to put a spanner in the works.

  13. 3

    As usual the missing piece is: what is a US President going to do about it?

    Arguably if Apple really had a big problem with these counterfeit stores, they would have a lot more leverage with the Chinese than anybody in the US government. But I don’t see them threatening to pull out of Foxconn in protest.

  14. 1

    The answer is very straightforward. We can compete with anyone in the world as long as the playing field is level. China’s been cheating over the years.

    The answer is very straightforward. We can compete with anyone in the world, as long as they’re not trying to win.

    I can’t believe we signed all these international treaties, and none of them explicitly say “no cheating”.

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