Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy

by Dennis Crouch

The USPTO Chief Economist Andrew Toole and his team have just released a new report on Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy. Prior reports were issued in 2012 and 2016.

IP-intensive industries account for 41% of domestic economic activity and about 44% of US jobs. And, those jobs have higher wages, better benefits, etc — especially in the copyright and utility patent intensive industries.  The report itself includes an appendix explaining how it categorized these industries.

The report endeavors to provide solid information without over-claiming — for instance, the report does not attempt to discern the economic impact of IP rights themselves but rather focuses on industry level impacts.

6 thoughts on “Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy

  1. 2

    Seeing this posting, I find myself reflecting on what has changed, and what has not, over the forty years of my involvement in patents.

    The USA always was, and still is, leading the way in the acquisition and exploitation of IPR.

    China was nowhere to be seen, until recently, that is. But now, it is increasingly rivalling the USA. Changes don’t come much more remarkable than that.

    And then there’s Moscow, still supposing itself to be the capital city of an empire. Still with a pitiful economy. Still lacking any presence at all in the world of IPR. I suspect that very few people who are not patent practitioners are aware of the chasm of difference between China and Russia, when it comes to making i) progress in the useful arts and ii) nurturing an economy under which its residents can flourish.

    1. 2.1

      It is a good point that Russia has not attempted to set up a structure for success. Notice that Russian patents still basically suck whereas Chinese patents have gone from a joke to being pretty good.

    2. 2.2

      Let us not forget that China still has a ways to go but it has definitely come far from where it was at 30 years ago. I

    3. 2.3

      The USA always… lead[s] the way in the acquisition and exploitation of IP [rights]. China was nowhere to be seen,… [b]ut now, it is increasingly rivalling the USA.

      I want to explore this assertion a bit. “Rivalling” in what sense? It is certainly easier to obtain patents in CN than it used to be, but to what extent do those newly obtained patents amount to IP rights?

      We know, for example, that CN trademarks remain a joke (anyone who goes to visit CN can come back with all manner of “Lois Vuittoon,” “Adibas,” and other such gear). How do we know whether those CN patents are any more meaningful than CN trademarks? Renjun Bian’s data showing that “[d]amages awarded by Chinese courts are frustratingly low (US$4,885.99 in median)” are not that out of date (ca. 2018).

      1. 2.3.1

        Fair enough, Greg. In my choice of word “rival” I had in mind i) the sheer number of patent applications China now files and ii) the increasing importance (in fields other than bio/pharma) of having a bigger pile of patents than one’s business competitors.

        But I hope I’m wrong on that too, and that what will always count more than quantity is the sheer quality of the patents issued to any given player.

  2. 1

    The study says “In identifying IP-intensive industries, this study considers the relative use across domestic industries of four forms of IP protection: utility patents, design patents, trademarks, and copyrights.”
    First, I would bet they measured relative numbers of issued patents rather than their “use”, which would be very difficult to do.
    Secondly, as noted on this blog, there is not a direct linkage between those U.S. employers that like to get lots of patents and those that do not, re the extent of their use their own technology and patents in their businesses.

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