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February 12, 2016

GIPC Releases International IP Index, 4th Edition

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On February 10th the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC), a project of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, released the fourth edition of its International IP Index. The Index is a mapping and ranking of the climate for IP-based innovation in the 38 economies around the world that account for nearly 85 percent of global GDP.

There is a ranking, of course, because people (and governments) like lists. And while the rankings easily lent themselves to highlighting on social media, the great value is the nation-specific discussion of changes in country policies that have improved their IP climate, and nation-specific discussion of gaps and areas for improvement. For instance:

  • Malaysia is noted for improvements in its IP climate, and its participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will result in further improvement in its IP policies.
  • Israel’s 2014 patent reforms, including data protection for pharma-related clinical data and patent restoration for biopharma.
  • But several European countries, including Switzerland, Sweden, Poland and Italy, are noted for lax efforts at combatting online piracy.
  • The BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China) are noted for continuing to tie IP protection to concessions on market-access and for an overall policy of using weak IP protection as a means of trying to favor their own domestic interests.
  • Even the U.S. is faulted for weak enforcement against trade secrets theft.

The Index also helpfully points out through the criteria chosen many pro-IP arguments that tend to get glossed over, such as the way strong IP protection facilitates investment and greater access to financing.

In the current environment where IP is under attack by many international and domestic interests, it has been a crucial strategic step to emphasize empirical data and methods in support of IP-based innovation, and the GIPC should be commended for taking this approach. The great thing about empirical approaches and disclosed methodologies is that it forces the policy discussion to acknowledge the empirical data and the scholarly approach. Critics of IP may disagree, but if they are unwilling to deal with the data and interact with it, their arguments are revealed to simply be opinions rather than arguments. And, frankly, much of the IP skeptic rhetoric has been little more than assertion and opinion. When pressed for proof and data, almost always their attempts have been lame.

To be clear: If a critic of IP disagrees with a methodology, let’s have that conversation. We should always be open to fact-based critique of our positions. And laws and policies are always subject to improvement. But let’s not pretend, for instance that IP doesn’t underlie almost 60 percent of U.S. exports to other nations.

The GIPC has once again made a solid contribution to a fact-based policy discussion about the importance of IP protection, as well as giving guidance to nations about how they might improve their innovation environments. Good job!

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