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Job Creators Need Trade Deals to Protect U.S. Intellectual Property

March 11, 2015

American job creators need fair and strong rules that hold people in other countries accountable when they violate our intellectual property rights. And that’s one more reason why we need to pass trade promotion authority (TPA).

A healthy economy requires strong protections for intellectual property, as a study by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office shows. The study finds:

  • The entire U.S. economy relies on some form of intellectual property, because virtually every industry either produces or uses it.

  • Merchandise exports of IP-intensive industries account for more than 60 percent of total U.S. merchandise exports.

Protecting intellectual property leads to a stronger American economy—one that continues to drive innovation. And when we sign trade agreements with other countries, they agree to protect our intellectual property. In other words, everyone must follow the rules.
On the flip side, if we don’t sign trade agreements, other countries can violate our intellectual property rights and rob our innovators. Take, for example, the real-life testimony of Garry Ridge, president and CEO of WD-40 Co. In a recent Los Angeles Times op-ed, Ridge says:

“In places such as Malaysia we’ve seen a proliferation of WD-40 knock-offs and counterfeit products. These goods are typically poor-quality imitations that threaten the integrity of our brand, cut into our market share and damage our bottom line.”

In fact, if we do nothing, other countries will rewrite the global rules to leave American innovators in the cold, without the safeguards they need. This means our innovators will find it harder to stay competitive. We should not gamble with America’s future.
By passing trade promotion authority, Congress will direct the administration to secure stronger protections for our intellectual property from our trading partners, protect American innovation, and fight cyber theft. As Ridge says about the two biggest trade deals we’re currently negotiating:

“The bottom line is that trade agreements will help the United States compete and maintain its leadership in the world economy. Passing trade promotion authority and the trade deals is a sure way to help California companies like ours continue to grow and employ more people here at home. Without it, our economic competitiveness is at stake.”

We won’t have a healthy economy if we don’t protect American innovation; it’s what made us the leading competitor on the global scale, and it’s what will keep us there. As Chairman Ryan recently said, “any agreement must include strong protections for . . . intellectual property rights.”
The U.S. must write the rules of the global economy, not let others take the lead. The best ideas come from America, and we should fight to protect them.