Intellectual Property

The Seventh Edition of the Global Intellectual Property Index – IP “Inspires Tomorrow”

Earlier this month the Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released the seventh edition of the International IP Index. This year’s volume, entitled Inspiring Tomorrow, makes a convincing case that the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) does indeed inspire tomorrow — a tomorrow abundant in life-saving and life-enhancing human invention!

The Index is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in understanding the global IP landscape. Typical of the publication, this edition includes surprising developments, anticipated challenges as well as positive change in IP policy and enforcement worldwide. Illuminating a pathway that countries can follow in order to spur the economic growth that strong IP protections and enforcement encourage, the Index assesses 50 countries using 45 criteria grouped into eight categories: patents; copyrights; trademarks; trade secrets; commercialization of IP assets; enforcement; systemic efficiency; and membership and ratification of international treaties. The Index evaluates and ranks the strength of each country’s intellectual property regime.

A notable change in this year’s results is the improvement in IP policy in the developing world. Recognizing that stronger IP protections translate into increased economic growth, mid-size economies are rapidly implementing IPR reforms. The Brazilian government created incentives to help small to medium-sized enterprises register intellectual property assets, and India has instituted reforms so that its IP regulations more closely parallel the international IP system. This helped India climb from 44 in the 2018 rankings to 36 in the current guide.

Intellectual property is at the center of global trade – both disputes and successes. The President’s first mention of trade during this year’s State of the Union (SOTU) address was about China’s intellectual property theft – a situation that is largely responsible for his enacting tariffs that dealt a blow the Chinese economy…and arguably also to ours. The President also urged Congress to approve the newly-negotiated United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) citing the stronger IP provisions of the new framework. USMCA, effectively a modernization of NAFTA, has significantly raised the bar for IP chapters for all future free trade agreements for decades to come. Access ALEC model policy supporting the IP provisions in USMCA as well as a statement on the new trade framework’s IP chapter here and here.

For the seventh consecutive year, the United States tops the Index list earning a score of 42.66. Its lead over the UK which ranks second at 42.22 widened slightly. The improvement in America’s score can be attributed to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) reforms which are anticipated to reduce the unpredictability in the patent opposition system in the United States.

Continued American leadership on IPR protections is expected as no other nation has leveraged IP and protection of IP rights better than the U.S.  IP-intensive industries account for millions of American jobs that offer higher than average wages. GIPC has compiled an overview of the impact of IP on each state, and although the United States’ IP regime is strong, there is always room for improvement. Countries, including America, that strengthen their IP policies and enforcement reap positive economic rewards.

More than most other indicators, strong IPR protections are predictive for economic health. Nations that enforce protections for IPR have economies that are 26 percent more competitive.  Countries that have strong IP regimes are 39 percent more likely to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) and 30 percent more likely to attract venture capital and private equity funds. These countries average over 500 more high-value inventions per million in population and the share of their workforce employed in knowledge-intensive sectors is 67 percent higher. The benefits of protecting innovation are well worth the costs!

The GIPC Index is a useful tool to chart progress on the protection of IPR globally and to identify areas where more work is needed. ALEC has long recognized the power of IP as an engine for economic growth – as did America’s Founding Fathers who enshrined the importance of IP protections in the U.S. Constitution. Work ALEC has done on the topic can be found here.


In Depth: Intellectual Property

Innovation and the intellectual property (IP) often underpinning it are crucial drivers of human progress. Innovation saves lives, facilitates human connections that have even sparked revolutions and entertains and enchants people around the globe. Pharmaceuticals, computer operating systems, social networking sites and films are all tangible examples of the intellectual…

+ Intellectual Property In Depth