As any California resident is probably well aware of, intellectual property rights have gone from being a relatively obscure issue to taking center stage over the past 20 years thanks to a number of emerging technologies. Nowadays, people can share songs, books and movies with ease. People are also creating their own content at a record pace. Naturally, this has led to a lot of interest in intellectual property rights.
Although many economies rely on intellectual property rights, few may compare to the reliance of the United States upon them. California may especially rely on these rights thanks to Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Indeed, a new survey conducted by the U.S. government shows that 40 million jobs are supported by intellectual property rights. That’s more than a quarter of the U.S. workforce, or 28 percent.
As a share of the economy, 35 percent of gross domestic product comes from 75 industries that rely heavily on intellectual property. Perhaps even more astounding, they account for about 61 percent of U.S. exports. It’s easy to see just why companies consider their intellectual property to be so valuable.
In fact, thanks to its value, corporations often owe a duty to their shareholders to take aggressive action to protect their intellectual property against infringement by others. Infringement of a copyright or a trademark may well constitute theft while the infringement of a patent may jeopardize the company’s reason for being. Of course, just as companies have a duty to uphold their intellectual property rights, they also have a duty to protect those rights against the infringement claims of others.
Source: Reuters, “U.S. says intellectual property supports 40 million jobs,” Doug Palmer, April 11, 2012