President Obama and Secretary Kerry have made fostering innovation and scientific discovery a core component of our foreign policy. In 2014, Secretary Kerry said, “The work of diplomacy is about creating shared prosperity through innovation, through hard work, through research, through education, and creating the kind of opportunity that creates the products of the future.” Aggressively promoting and protecting innovation accelerates global prosperity. Innovation makes the U.S. and global economies more resilient to economic distress, better able to respond to climate change, expands trade and investment between nations, and enables developing nations to participate more fully in global economic growth. Laws protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) and effective IP enforcement spur innovation and development.
Creating and ensuring a sound IPR environment to facilitate economic development requires the sustained commitment of national and local governments, and the participation of creators, innovators, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders. To that end, the U.S. Department of State, other agencies, and several international organizations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) engage leaders and communities in developing countries to highlight the benefits of effective IPR protection and assist them in developing their IPR framework.
IPR Supports Development
Creativity and innovation are natural resources in which every country and community is potentially rich. Intellectual property provides a policy framework that encourages local creativity, foreign direct investment, increased jobs and income, and voluntary, mutually agreed technology transfer. These help both developed and developing economies grow and diversify, increasing global living standards. Supporting innovation implicitly leads to supporting norms and practices such as good governance, clear regulatory requirements, entrepreneurship, diversity of thought, gender equality, and transparency -- all of which reduce corruption and increase global security.
An effective IPR regime creates value by enabling researchers, inventors and artists to benefit financially from their works, through patent, trademark, and copyright protection. IP is an asset that enables innovators and entrepreneurs to attract investment and customers by differentiating their products from those of other companies. Consumers will often prefer products bearing a well-known trademark that represents a high level of quality, design, customer service or other desirable trait (s). Therefore, a country with an effective IPR regime rewards its innovators and artists, and encourages exports and investments by companies whose products benefit from IP protection.
The State Department supports IPR and development by:
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
WIPO provides assistance to member states seeking to determine the economic contribution of their copyright-based industries in terms of their share in gross domestic product, generation of employment and trade. WIPO hosts the IP Advantage, a database which chronicles the IP “experiences of inventors, creators, entrepreneurs and researchers from across the globe…and how its successful exploitation can contribute to development,” and also videos featuring international artists and musicians describing the importance of IP. For example: