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Tom Donohue: Innovators and Enforcers the Champions in Intellectual Property

When we think about intellectual property (IP) issues, it’s easy to focus on the bad guys — the criminal organizations, the plotting foreign governments, the online pirates, the counterfeiters and the hacktivists — and the dangerous consequences of their illicit activities. They pose very real threats in a global economy. But there’s a positive side to the story that sometimes gets lost in the debate over IP rights.

There are millions of good actors who contribute to America’s economic strength and competitiveness when they abide by IP rules as they invent and innovate — or when they fight to protect IP through enforcement.

The good guys can be found all across the country in startups, studios and labs, where they are turning their ideas into real products and services. Honest and law-abiding innovators are helping raise our quality of life, improve choices and safety for consumers, enrich our culture, drive our economy and create opportunity for others.

Together, IP industries account for $5.8 trillion in GDP, 74 percent of all exports and 55.7 million U.S. jobs.

But our entrepreneurs, artists, inventors and investors need assurance that their ideas will be protected and their work will be fairly rewarded. And consumers need confidence in the safety, quality and authenticity of the goods and services they buy. Without a strong system of IP rights, such assurance is threatened — along with economic growth and job creation.

The innovators’ allies are the agencies and organizations that enforce IP rules. Their work ensures that innovators have strong incentives and that public health and safety are protected.

One of the top leaders in enforcement is U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which targets the bad actors responsible for producing, smuggling and distributing counterfeit products. ICE investigations focus not only on keeping these products off U.S. streets, but also on dismantling the criminal organizations behind them. Many other federal agencies are partnering to take down illicit online “pharmacies”; get dangerous counterfeit items, like airbags, out of U.S. markets; and put illegitimate online operators out of business.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center recently recognized some of the leading individuals and organizations from government, business and academia that are promoting and protecting IP. Read more about their efforts by clicking here.

The Chamber of Commerce and the GIPC will continue to stand strong with our allies in the IP fight — the innovators and the enforcers. Together, we have a responsibility to protect U.S. consumers, jobs, growth and competitiveness.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The opinions expressed are his own.

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