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Patents helping add jobs, lift GDP

Intellectual property rights play key role in economy: Report

– More than a quarter of all jobs in the United States are with companies that rely on patents, copyrights and trademarks to protect products from competition and promote investment, the Commerce Department said.

About 27.1 million jobs in 2010 were in industries that rely heavily on intellectual property protections, and an additional 12.9 million positions were indirectly affected. The 75 industries deemed “IP-intensive” accounted for $5.06 trillion, or about 35 percent of the gross domestic product in 2010, according to a study released by the Economics and Statistic Administration and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last week.

The Commerce Department sought to quantify the portion of the U.S. economy relying on intellectual property rights as President Obama calls for more innovation to boost job growth. Workers in industries deemed “intellectual property intensive” earned $1,156 a week on average in 2010, 42 percent more than those in other sectors, the report found.

“These good-paying jobs help support an economic security for America’s middle class,” Rebecca Blank, deputy Commerce secretary, said.

While almost all companies rely on some intellectual property, such as the trademark for their name, the study selected 75 that were considered more reliant, including makers of electronics, medical devices, software, drugs, motor vehicles, consumer goods and movies.

“The largest and most innovative industries in the U.S. rely on IP for global competitiveness,” said PTO Director David Kappos. Strong intellectual property protection is “paying dividends in growth of the economy and growth of jobs.”

The U.S. jobless rate was at 8.2 percent in March as Obama campaigns for a second term in November’s presidential election. A loss of jobs has meant that employment in the patent-reliant industries fell, though there was rapid growth in jobs in areas such as software that rely more on copyright protection.

U.S. exports of merchandise from industries that are intensive in intellectual property, including electronics and chemicals, increased about 53 percent, to $775 billion, from 2000 to 2010, according to the report. They account for almost 61 percent of all U.S. goods exports.

Imports from industries intensive in intellectual property increased almost 62 percent during the past decade, to $1.34 billion in 2010.

Trade statistics don’t capture the “complete picture” of the importance of some industries, such as electronics, to the U.S. economy, according to the report.

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