Wednesday, March 21 , 2018, 2:13 am | Overcast 57º


Tom Donohue: Protect Jobs By Protecting Intellectual Property

Proposed federal legislation would target rogue websites run by pirates and counterfeiters

It may not be immediately evident, but intellectual property — embodied in trademarks, patents and copyrights — is indispensable to America’s innovative drive and economic prosperity.

IP-intensive industries play a key role in propelling the success of the U.S. marketplace by providing our workforce with quality jobs. Millions of them — 19 million to be exact. And these businesses also pay wages nearly 60 percent higher than comparable work in non-IP industries.

However, rogue websites, which are dedicated to online trademark counterfeiting and digital copyright thievery, have created a clear and present danger to the viability of these industries. Studies show that legitimate businesses of all sizes lose more than $135 billion annually in part to the more than 53 billion visits that rogue sites attract. This lost revenue translates directly into lost jobs and reduced research and development.

Yet the economic impact is just part of the story. Even more frightening is the harm dangerously defective counterfeit products can have on consumers. From counterfeit perfume laced with antifreeze to bogus pharmaceuticals and faulty brake pads, counterfeiters won’t hesitate to trade your family’s health and safety for a quick buck.

So what can we do about it? Last year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement launched Operation in Our Sites, which resulted in severing more than 100 rogue sites from the U.S. marketplace. While this program has proven incredibly successful, we are still lacking the tools necessary to combat rogue site operators that lie beyond U.S. borders.

Fortunately, Congress recognizes the growing threat of these cyber criminals and is coming to our aid. On May 12, Sens. Patrick Leahy and Orrin Hatch, along with a bipartisan group of 10 other co-sponsors, introduced S. 968, the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act — the PROTECT IP Act, legislation to combat websites that are dedicated to online IP infringement.

The PROTECT IP Act would cut off foreign pirates and counterfeiters from the U.S. market and deprive them of what they want most — our money. By disrupting the business models of the pirates and counterfeiters, this act would make it less profitable and more difficult for those who wish to engage in blatant IP theft.

The reasonable enforcement of laws that protect American jobs and consumers is a primary function of government. The PROTECT IP Act can help do that, while creating a safer, more vibrant marketplace.

In the interests of American citizens and businesses, it’s time for Congress to enact the PROTECT IP Act.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >