Intellectual property is the biggest business opportunity in the world, according to a report released Wednesday by a group of academics.
“If the internet was the world’s greatest economic engine, and we had laws that protected our intellectual property rights, it would be the biggest engine in the universe,” says Michael D. Schoen, a professor of public policy at the University of Southern California.
“If you want to build the world of tomorrow, intellectual property is a keystone.”
In a world with such massive economic potential, the US should be leading the way, says the report, entitled Intellectual Property as the World’s Greatest Economic Engine.
The report is the culmination of more than 20 years of research into the relationship between intellectual property and the global economy.
Among the authors are a group that includes Harvard University professor and co-author Jonathan Gruber, an expert on economic growth and productivity; George Mason University economist Thomas Ferguson, who authored the book The Great Escape: The Impact of Intellectual Property on the American Economy; and Johnathan M. Smith, a former chief economist at the Federal Reserve.
All of them have made the case that intellectual property protects a wide variety of industries, from agriculture to pharmaceuticals to pharmaceutical companies.
In their report, the authors offer an expansive definition of intellectual property that includes “creative works,” patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets.
They also say that “the broadest application of intellectual-property protection is the protection of ideas.”
“It’s a complex issue,” says Smith.
“It is not an easy issue to define.
But it’s the most complex issue that the United States has faced.”
Among those who have written to the White House are US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the White, House’s senior adviser for international economic affairs; White House economic adviser Peter Navarro; and the US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer.
It’s hard to get a sense of what the experts are thinking, Schoen says.
They’re not just asking the White Houses chief economic adviser to come up with a new set of intellectual protection standards.
Schoen and his co-authors have developed a detailed methodology to make that happen.
We don’t know what intellectual property protection is, because we haven’t done the research, and the best we can do is a rough idea.
One of the authors, Smith, says it’s difficult to get much outside of academia to talk about intellectual property because most people are not in the business of getting in on intellectual property.
Smith says the key to getting the public to embrace intellectual property reform is “to make it clear that intellectual-protection is an important pillar of the global economic system.”
“The US government is the only country in the developed world that does not have an intellectual-exchange system,” he says.
“The only country that does is China.
The US is the world leader in intellectual-importers.
China has the lowest rate of intellectual exchange, but we’re one of the few countries in the Western world that have a free-trade system that lets you get the best products to the most people in the least time.”
The authors say it’s important to recognize that the relationship with the US government isn’t the only one.
Some countries in Europe, for example, are developing intellectual-free trade agreements that allow their citizens to access products from outside their borders without the fear of tariffs.
But intellectual-freedom laws are not as clear-cut in the United Kingdom.
This is because the British government has never adopted an intellectual protection regime.
As a result, the UK is one of a few countries that have no trade agreement with the United Nations, the UN’s agency for intellectual property enforcement.
What’s more, some countries have not ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the document that establishes international law.
If the US and other Western countries want to create a stronger relationship with developing countries, they should push for an agreement that protects the right to copy, as well as a protection for trademarks, the report says.
The report recommends that the US have an Intellectual Property Enforcement Advisory Committee, and that Congress make it a priority to pass legislation that strengthens intellectual-rights protections.
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