Opinions and Editorials

Jan. 19, 2021

IP Watchdog: Biden’s Opportunity to Protect American Innovation by Arvin Patel

When Joe Biden became President-elect Biden, he asked us to imagine a new, more hopeful version of America. He urged us to work toward leaving a “grim era” behind – a COVID-19 outbreak, economic devastation, social unrest, and a contentious election. It won’t be easy to recover, and it will require that Americans do something recently seen as undoable – unite, cooperate, and innovate.

President-elect Biden immediately took a step in the right direction, though, pledging to be a president who “does not see red or blue states, but United States.” His economic priorities are also clearly expressed in the first sentence of his Build Back Better economic plan, which states, “Joe Biden believes to his core that there’s no greater economic engine in the world than the hard work and ingenuity of the American people.” These are encouraging sentiments, but to make more substantial inroads his rhetoric will hopefully be supported by real policy. Improving the protection of America’s intellectual property (IP) is an economic opportunity that he needs to capitalize on.

America must continue to be an IP-driven economy. Overall, the direct and indirect impacts of innovation account for more than 40% of U.S. economic growth and employment. Unfortunately, right now, we’re suffering losses that we can’t afford. Every year, Chinese IP theft costs the U.S. economy between $225 and $600 billion. Since 2001, more than 3.4 million American manufacturing jobs have been lost to China. Particularly considering COVID-19’s economic impact and the ongoing uphill recovery, immediate action needs to be taken.

First, we need to organize our domestic innovation strategy. We’ve all heard the adage, “Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Well, when it comes to IP, America can’t help but throw stones.

There’s a reason that we’ve contributed more to the last century of innovation than any other country – we break rules, defy norms, and exceed expectations. So, we need to make sure our patent laws can withstand the stones that will inevitably come our way. Simply put, that means simplifying and expanding our eligibility laws. For a country whose economy counts on broad-based innovation, we can no longer afford the self-inflicted wound of restrictive, unnecessarily complicated laws.