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U.S. Commerce Department Releases New Report Showing Intellectual Property-Intensive Industries Contribute $5 Trillion, 40 Million Jobs to US Economy

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The U.S. Commerce Department today released a comprehensive report, entitled “Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus,” which finds that intellectual property (IP)-intensive industries support at least 40 million jobs and contribute more than $5 trillion dollars to, or 34.8 percent of, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). 

“This first of its kind report shows that IP-intensive industries have a direct and significant impact on our nation’s economy and the creation of American jobs,” said Commerce Secretary John Bryson. “When Americans know that their ideas will be protected, they have greater incentive to pursue advances and technologies that help keep us competitive, and our businesses have the confidence they need to hire more workers. That is why this administration’s efforts to protect intellectual property, and modernize the patent and trademark system are so crucial to a 21st century economy that is built to last.”

While IP is used in virtually every segment of the U.S. economy, the report identifies the 75 industries that use patent, copyright, or trademark protections most extensively. These “IP-intensive industries” are the source–directly or indirectly–of 40 million jobs. That’s more than a quarter of all the jobs in this country. Some of the most IP-intensive industries include: Computer and peripheral equipment, audio and video equipment manufacturing, newspaper and book publishers, Pharmaceutical and medicines, Semiconductor and other electronic components, and the Medical equipment space. 

“Strong intellectual property protections encourage our businesses to pursue the next great idea, which is vital to maintaining America’s competitive edge and driving our overall prosperity,” said Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. “The report released today shows that wages for jobs in IP-intensive industries are higher than average and continue to increase, meaning that these jobs aren’t just important for businesses and entrepreneurs–they are important for working families. The IP protections we put in place today are helping support economic security for America’s middle class now and in the years to come.”

The report has several important findings, including:

  • IP-intensive industries contributed $5.06 trillion to the U.S. economy or 34.8 percent of GDP in 2010.
  • 40 million jobs, or 27.7 percent of all jobs, were directly or indirectly attributable to the most IP-intensive industries in 2010.
  • Between 2010 and 2011, the economic recovery led to a 1.6 percent increase in direct employment in IP-intensive industries, faster than the 1.0 percent growth in non-IP-intensive industries.
  • Merchandise exports of IP-intensive industries totaled $775 billion in 2010, accounting for 60.7 percent of total U.S. merchandise exports.

“Every job in some way, produces, supplies, consumes, or relies on innovation, creativity, and commercial distinctiveness,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director David Kappos. “America needs to continue investing in a high quality and appropriately balanced intellectual property system that will promote innovative, open, and competitive markets while helping to ensure that the U.S. private sector remains America’s innovation engine.”

The report is a joint product of the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Secretary Bryson was joined today by Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank, Under Secretary for Intellectual Property and USPTO Director David Kappos, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue, and American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) President Richard Trumka at a White House event, to unveil the report.

The Department of Commerce and USPTO are unleashing new innovations and new industries by advancing a robust framework of intellectual property protections for a global economy. The USPTO has already implemented eight provisions of the recently passed America Invents Act, which are enhancing the speed and quality of patent processing, connecting businesses with the tools they need to develop their technologies, and speeding up patent applications. Since President Obama took office, the backlog has been reduced by nearly 15 percent, from about 750,000 to just under 641,000 today. That reduction has come despite the acceleration of American ingenuity, and patent filings in the U.S. grew five percent in FY 2011. By re-engineering the IP system from the ground up, the USPTO is creating a 21st century innovation architecture that’s built to last and will help America remain a global leader going forward.

Patents, trademarks, and copyrights are the principal means for establishing ownership rights to inventions and ideas, and provide a legal foundation by which intangible ideas and creations generate tangible benefits to businesses and employees. IP protection affects commerce throughout the economy, including by: providing incentives to invent and create; protecting innovators from unauthorized copying; facilitating vertical specialization in technology markets; creating a platform for financial investments in innovation; supporting startup liquidity and growth through mergers, acquisitions, and IPOs; making licensing-based technology business models possible; and, enabling a more efficient market for technology transfer and trading in technology and ideas.  

The full report can be found online at

To learn more about the Department of Commerce’s efforts to spur innovation and protect IP, visit