In the previous post, we have talked about the Intellectual Property in order to introduce it. We have seen what does it mean, it’s characteristics, implications, importance… So, we can say that we have been introduced in the concept of IP. In this post, in order to go deeper in the area of IP, I am going to talk about the relevance of the topic in industry. To make it more practical, I am going to present some cases and present information from real applicated ideas in the actual industry.
First of all, we must have clear an idea: the IP is very very important, not only in the industry, but in the world. Why? The IP and all the involving laws, regulations… are allowing the companies to protect their ideas and to develop their products, as they are able to continue researching and working in their products without the fear of having their ideas and products stolen. This secure environment for the researching and developing of technology, allows the companies that really have the ability to create new ideas, to have some securities involving their work. So, nowadays, protecting own ideas, when it is considered important to do it, is essential to survive in this industrial world.
The protection of IP is increasingly becoming a challenge for organizations. All the legal problems and battles between companies is highlighting the importance of protecting intellectual property in order to gain competitive advantage. For example, let’s analyse this topic for the US. As it is considered one the the most important industrial potencies, and probably the most important involving the generation of technological ideas and IPs, we can say that this reality is essential to understand the relevance of IP in the industry and in the world. As reported by the Economics and Statistics Administration and the Patent and Trademark Office of the United States in 2016 about 2014, is estimated that more than 6.6 trillion dollars in value added in IP-intensive industries, in other words, the 38.2 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. And not only this, we find that:
- The entire U.S. economy relies on some form of IP, because virtually every industry either produces or uses it.
- 81 industries from a total of 313 are considered IP-intensive, which directly accounted for 27.9 million American jobs, up 0.8 million from 2010.
- At the same time, these sectors indirectly supported 17.6 million more supply chain jobs, so, every two jobs in IP-intensive industries support an additional one job. In total, 45.5 million jobs, 30 percent of all jobs, were directly or indirectly attributable to the most IP-intensive industries.
In addition, these numbers have grown up a lot from 2010 to the data reported in the previous points. But, someone can say that these points are focused only in the United States, but, on one hand, U.S.’s industry is one of the biggest and most important and influencer in the world, and on the other hand, this reality of the relevance of IP in the industry can be seen in other countries too, as in Europe. So let’s present just some data: As reported by the European Union Intellectual Property Office and the European Patent Office in 2013, IP-intensive industries accounted for 39% of the EU’s economic output and 26% of the employment during the period 2008-2010. So, we are not just talking about some companies and few countries, the relevance of IP is evident in the world industry.
This is only some data about the relevance of IP in industry, but we have not to go so deep, as we just have to think about some of the biggest companies in the world: Apple, Intel, Microsoft… And some of the biggest fields: Computer technology, Digital communication, Electrical machinery, apparatus and energy, Medical technology… For these companies and fields, IP and its protection is essential in order to survive and continue developing their ideas and products.
In order to protect the ideas of the companies, that have a high potential to become a source of money, and it is considered important to protect it, they have been created laws around IP and copyright. So, for example, in the U.S., the Article I, Section 8, talks about the authority of the Congress to grant authors and inventors exclusive right to their creations. The IP laws passed by Congress are administered by two government agencies: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the U.S. Copyright Office. In Spain, for example, we can talk about the law of IP, which have been created in 1996 an updated in 2017 in order to regularize and clear all the legal materia. Each country has their own laws involving IP, so each country’s courts can apply the law in this area, but all this laws talk about same ideas: the authority of an idea and the importance to protect it against copies.
In order to finish the post, I want to present one of the most important cases of application of IP laws in order to protect products: A&M Records vs Napster. This case is known by a lot of people. In 1999, Shawn Fanning, an 18 year old student of computer science, created Napster, a peer-to-peer music sharing service which allowed users to download MP3s for free. We can see the importance of this fact, as nowadays the illegal downloads of music files is so common, and it can be considered that point the starting point of this reality. So, Napster was accused of contributory and vicarious copyright infringement, and in 2002, Napster was shut down.
In conclusion, the importance and relevance of IP in industry is evident. I have presented a lot of data along the document that reaffirms that reality, from statistics from important institutions to real cases, highlighting the perspective of local and international institutions, the importance of the developed laws and the trend of IP and the reality around us.
 Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus (2016 Update). U.S. Economics and Statistics Administration and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
 Intellectual property rights intensive industries and economic performance in the European Union. European Patent Office and European Union Intellectual Property Office.