Thursday, May 23, 2013

International Theft of American Intellectual Property Requires Resolute Action

As philosopher and theologian Augustine once asked, "Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies?"  Right now several foreign nations are sanctuaries for mass-scale robbery of American intellectual property.

According to the May 22, IP Commission Report, "t[h]e annual losses are likely to be comparable to the current annual level of U.S. exports to Asia—over $300 billion."

The magnitude of international theft of American IP and the need for bolder action to confront this crisis prompted the report. It was produced by the nonpartisan, independent Commission on the Theft of Intellectual Property. The basic findings of the report and its recommendations are also the subject of a Washington Post op-ed by the Commission's Co-Chairs.
In "Protecting U.S. intellectual property rights," Dennis Blair and Jon Huntsman spotlight the ongoing losses to the American economy in market value and jobs. They also emphasize the risk of unmeasurable but assuredly catastrophic losses to our future economy should international IP rip-offs continue to run rampant. In their words:
Our intellectual property is what provides the new ideas that will keep the U.S. economy vital and productive over the long term. If less innovative foreign companies can reap the profits of U.S. research and development and innovation, we will lose our competitive edge and eventually experience a decrease in incentives to innovate altogether.
Blair and Hunstman briefly summarize the IP Commission's immediate recommendations, which include denying products containing stolen IP access to the U.S. market, restricting use of the U.S. financial system to foreign companies that steal IP, and more.

As the digital age proceeds, the critical role of IP to our prosperity and way of life will grow more dramatically still. Protecting American IP rights from international theft should be a top priority of U.S. foreign and economic policy.