Key Policymakers Consider Strong Patent Rights Critical to the Success of the U.S. in the Global Economy

Tuesday, Nov 12th, 2013

A strong patent system is the backbone of American competitiveness in the global economy. The U.S. intellectual property portfolio is estimated to be worth approximately $5.5 trillion, and royalties and license fees account for a trade surplus of around $80 billion. The success of our patent system in promoting innovation and economic growth has made it the gold standard around the world. At the same time, the changes we make at home can have global ramifications, as emerging markets look to us in designing their own intellectual property regimes.
For these reasons and others, key policymakers highlight the enormous importance of the U.S. patent system to the global economy. They caution against changes that would retreat from this country’s historic commitment to strong patent rights.

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Importance of a Strong Intellectual Property System

“[O]ne of the most attractive magnets we have [for foreign investment] is our protection of intellectual property. We have people coming from as far as India because . . . we will protect what they create here, and it will be enforced by fair and just laws. Many parts of the world do not have that capacity, and it makes all the difference.”
— Former United States Trade Representative Ambassador Carla Hills
“I think we need intellectual property protection more now to combat imports than less.”
— Former International Trade Commission Chairman Deanna Okun
“[P]romoting and protecting innovation does ultimately protect consumers’ interests and consumers’ welfare, and that’s one of the things that we really need to make sure gets understood in these regimes that are really developing, these new competition regimes around the world.”
— FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen

Impact of Domestic Changes to Intellectual Property Regimes Around the World

“Trade negotiators are working very hard to get emerging economies to adopt a world standard, a global standard, that is a gold standard, and the gold standard is the U.S. standard; and if we begin to create uncertainty and tinker with the system in ways that are not called for, where the data is sufficient, we’re making, I think, a huge mistake.”
— Former United States Trade Representative Ambassador Carla Hills
“Tinkering with [our intellectual property laws] and creating uncertainty is something this is going to be not only emulated by those . . . we’re trying to encourage . . . but also [will] discourage those who legitimately would like to invest here in the United States.”
— Former United States Trade Representative Ambassador Carla Hills
“I really think we need to be very clear not just about what we are doing but as clear about what we are not doing because one of the things that I’ve found in regimes around to world, particularly those who do not have a strong tradition of protecting intellectual property rights, is they are taking notes. They are watching and they are looking to see whether we are being consistent internally, domestically, with what we are saying to them internationally.”
— FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen
“[I]n my area of antitrust . . . there are people [in China] who have [a] sophisticated understanding . . . and they are trying to advocate internally to others, to convince others that this is the way to go, and when we send a mixed message, we undercut their ability to advocate internally for movement towards a system that will be welfare-enhancing.”
— FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen

On Patent Proposals

“[R]ather than try to tinker with the system, I’d rather enforce it, and I have a lot of confidence that the ITC and the Federal District Courts are competent to deal with the issues in accordance with our historic laws and system, and that is of enormous value.”
— Former United States Trade Representative Ambassador Carla Hills
“I don’t think the government is particularly good or has a very good track record for being a price-setter, and our policy position should really be to encourage private negotiations here and not to resort to the courts or a regulatory agency as a price-setter through litigation down the road.”
— FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen
“[T]he vast majority of the ITC’s caseload is not about anything that resembles a non-practicing entity. . . . [T]here is not this vast flood that you would sometimes think when you just read the press, that there must be just a flood of these patent assertion entities.”
— Former International Trade Commission Chairman Deanna Okun
“[V]ery few companies that were non-practicing have succeeded even crossing the domestic industry test, and then a very small, I think it’s three, have succeeded in obtaining an exclusion order.”
— Former International Trade Commission Chairman Deanna Okun