Study Finds That Americans Have the Wrong Impression About Intellectual Property

An survey of more than 1,000 Americans from all walks of life has made clearer the extent to which people are confused about the purpose and use of intellectual property rights, the nation’s most valuable assets.

Announced last week by the United States Intellectual Property Alliance (USIPA), an umbrella group of IP organizations, businesses, creators and professionals, findings from “Intellectual Property Awareness and Attitudes” indicate that two-thirds of respondents, 66%, said they understood what intellectual property rights protect. Yet when asked to provide examples of IP, 70% of those surveyed could not.

Americans’ Understanding of IP Rights (horizontal graph above)

About two-thirds of Americans say they understand copyright, trademarks and patents at least somewhat well, while only 44% say they understand trade secrets. Copyright registers the highly percentage saying they understand it “very well,” although even this is only 25%.

Two-thirds of respondents said they understood what
intellectual property rights protect. Yet when asked to provide
examples of IP, 70% of those surveyed could not.

“Intellectual property encourages creators to provide what people want and need.” said Scott Frank, USIPA Founder, President and Chair. “The survey findings indicate that there is a serious need to raise Americans’ IP awareness. USIPA was created to inform and educate the public. Millions of jobs and billions of dollars are at stake.”

America’s Understanding of IP Differences

Respondents were asked to describe the difference between a patent, copyright, trademark and trade secret. 70% of respondents were not able to write anything. The content of those who answered was compared to the correct definitions. Many were able to correctly explain patents and copyrights, but fewer were able to describe trademarks and trade secrets.

USIPA was established in 2020 to address the American public’s level of knowledge and appreciation of intellectual property and the rights associated with them. The organization is in the process of creating alliances in every state to conduct local educational activities that raise the level of IP understanding.

“Intellectual Property Awareness and Attitudes” was conducted by an independent market research firm for USIPA.

Tap here for the news story and a PDF of the survey report, including data breakout.

Go here for the news release.

Image source: USIPA

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