Policy Focus: Your Ideas, Your Rights – Intellectual Property in the 21st Century

Women Inventors

by Patrice Lee Onwuka

Inventors, artists, and authors inspire the ideas that drive our economy, our culture, and our world. These creators assume the costs of bringing their ideas to the market because they have rights to their intellectual property. If those protections erode, the impact will ripple across every sector.

Women in particular have a lot at stake when it comes to intellectual property. The contributions of women to the arts, film, music, science, and technology surround us, and the Internet age has created even more opportunities for women as entrepreneurs, content creators, and small business owners. The creative economy now employs more than 5.5 million workers and accounts for more than $1.2 trillion dollars, or almost 7 percent of the U.S. economy.

This makes intellectual property a very enticing target for pirating, theft, infringements, and other illegal activities. According to the IP Commissions Report of 2016, the U.S. economy loses $225 to $600 billion in counterfeit goods, pirated software, and the theft of trade secrets annually. We lose another $60 billion per year from online piracy of digital content such as music, film, and books. But intellectual property violations don’t just cost dollars: Unsuspecting Americans suffer harmful—even fatal—results when counterfeit medications land in their hands.

It’s critical that our intellectual property policies stay abreast of the rapidly evolving world of technology. This requires modernizing the agencies charged with carrying out intellectual property protections and the rules governing the protection of ideas.

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