An IP Commission study finds that foreign sources, especially China, are responsible for the bulk U.S. theft.
Counterfeit goods, pirated software, and theft of trade secrets together represent a “systematic threat” to the US economy of between $225 billion and $600 billion annually, according to the findings of a 2017 research report from the bi-partisan IP Commission, The Theft of American Intellectual Property: Reassessments of the Challenge and United States Policy.
The massive theft of American IP—from companies and universities across the country, from U.S. labs to defense contractors, from banks to software companies—threatens the nation’s security, says the report.
The research, and update of a 2013 report, is the work of the bi-partisan IP Commission and was published by the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR). NBR conducts advanced independent research on strategic, political, economic and other issues affecting U.S. relations with Asia, including China and Russia.
The Intangible Investor in June’s IAM features a full perspective on the report, “Foreign sources responsible for most IP theft.” Subscribers can find a copy here.
Kudos to the IP Commission for establishing a beachhead in the global war to combat IP theft and cyber crime. Its pioneering research provides American and other lawmakers, businesses, investors and the public, with data about IP infringement that are cannot be ignored.
However, the report falls short. Identifying and stopping infringement, including cyber-espionage, should not be restricted to sources outside of the U.S. The IP Commission’s research zeros in on foreign counterfeit, trade secret and copyright violations. It does not account for increasing domestic patent infringement and copyright abuses, which have profoundly affected the software, recording and other industries, and impacted U.S. jobs.
To be fair, this IP Commission’s focus is foreign IP threats, and it is a daunting task to estimate the financial impact of domestic invention theft on U.S. businesses – not just what gets reported in the press about settlements and licenses.
But speaking to a range of IP attorneys and holders, it becomes clear that much IP abuse comes from domestic IT businesses, Internet providers, streaming services, individuals and others that know they are unlikely to be caught infringing rights or will have to pay for a license. By the IP Commissions own admission, IP theft is less benign than it might appear.
The theft of American IP is not just the ‘greatest transfer of wealth in human history,’ as General Keith Alexander put it; IP theft undercuts the primary competitive advantage of American business—the capacity for innovation.
Inspiration and a Challenge
The IP Commission’s timely report is a challenge to IP holders, and lawmakers alike who are concerned about innovation and commerce. It is a call to examine the source, type, and level of domestic IP rights theft, including patents, on SMEs, inventors, and universities, and how they affect the economy now and are likely to in the future.
The full 24-page update, The Theft of American Intellectual Property: Reassessments of the Challenge of the United States Policy, is well worth reading. Visit www.ipcommission.org.
The original 2013 report, Report of the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property, is also available and useful for comparison.
Image source: ipcommission.org; linkedin.com