April 26, 2018

Grassley on World Intellectual Property Day

Statement for the Senate Record by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
On the Occasion of World Intellectual Property Day
April 26, 2018
 
Mr. President, today, April 26th 2018, we celebrate World Intellectual Property Day, and recognize the important role intellectual property plays in the fabric of society. We take time to recognize the innovators and creators who are making our lives healthier, safer, and more productive through their ingenuity and the robust system of intellectual property protections enshrined in our laws. 
 
This year’s World Intellectual Property Day campaign, in particular, celebrates the women who are driving change and making our common future better though innovation in so many fields including science, healthcare, art, engineering, and design, just to name a few.
 
Inspiring contributions from countless women are powering innovation in our world. For example, Helen Murray Free was inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame in 2000 and awarded the national medal of Technology and Innovation in 2010 for her pioneering work in self-testing systems for diabetes. She received seven patents for her work. Iowa’s own Mary Florence Potts also used the American patent system to protect three of her inventions. Her work improved the safety of common household appliances and her novel iron design was even displayed at the 1876 World’s Fair in Philadelphia. Elise Harmon holds numerous patents for technology ranging from microprocessor production to high altitude carbon brush performance. Our intellectual property system must continue to protect and reward the work of women like Helen Murray Free, Mary Florence Potts, and Elise Harmon.
 
We need to continue creating an environment where innovative, creative women are empowered, connected, and celebrated. This involves ensuring a robust, inclusive intellectual property system that fosters and rewards innovation and the widespread ingenuity that has made America a leading force in the global economy. 
 
The Founding Fathers recognized that robust intellectual property infrastructure fosters creative talent and enhances innovative spark.  Article I, section 8 of the Constitution says “Congress shall have power ... to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”  Placing this authority within Congress’ enumerated powers underscores the weight that our Founding Fathers placed on intellectual property’s value to the budding nation. Although the American system of intellectual property rights has evolved since the ratification of the Constitution, its core mission of promoting innovation has remained constant. As a result, America has long been on the forefront of intellectual property and a leader in so many IP intensive fields. Our IP system is one that rightly rewards creativity and passion, characteristics common to so many Americans.
 
Intellectual property is also critical to our national economy because it fuels innovation that improves lives and creates jobs. The United States is one of the most dynamic and innovative countries in the world. Our nation’s success in areas such as agriculture, manufacturing, computer technology, and medicine can be traced in large measure to our respect for, and protection of, intellectual property.  In our modern innovation economy, patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and other forms of IP are more critical than ever.  IP protections and incentives drive enormous economic activity and development, helping assure America’s place as an economic and intellectual beacon to the world. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, IP-intensive industries account for more than 45 million direct and indirect U.S. jobs—that’s nearly a third of the workforce—and almost 40 percent of U.S. GDP. In addition, these jobs pay well. Average weekly wages in IP-intensive industries are 46 percent higher than in non-IP intensive fields. As a society, we depend on innovators not just to fuel our economy, but to make our lives better and to solve the challenges we face. These innovators, in turn, depend on different forms of intellectual property.
 
The Judiciary Committee plays an important role in protecting intellectual property.  The Committee exercises jurisdiction over our nation’s intellectual property laws including those governing patents, trademarks, and copyrights. We consider legislation that helps to ensure that intellectual property rights continue to promote jobs and innovation. The Committee also exercises important oversight of the Patent and Trademark Office, the Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, and various law enforcement entities charged with protecting IP. Just last week, we held an oversight hearing with Director Iancu from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. We heard about what is going well and about some of the difficulties facing the Office as well as other intellectual property stakeholders. As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will continue to embrace my role as a promoter of intellectual property rights, innovation, and ultimately American jobs.
 
This World Intellectual Property Day, it is important to once again recognize the significance of our nation’s robust system of intellectual property protection and enforcement. As we recognize the positive impacts IP has on innovation, let’s continue to find ways to work together to ensure its protection against infringement. We want the United States to maintain its position as the most innovative and creative country in the world.
 

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