Executive Director, Health and Drug Policy, Global Innovation Policy Center
February 22, 2023
Intellectual property was a key differentiator throughout COVID-19. From the vaccines and therapeutics that fought the virus directly to the technologies and creative contributions that kept us connected, entertained, and informed, IP-driven solutions led our pandemic response and recovery.
Innovators will continue to chip away at the world’s most pressing challenges, but our global legal frameworks must continue to support them in tandem. Governments and multilateral organizations must invest in strong, clear IP protections that encourage investments in the economy of tomorrow.
The U.S. Chamber’s International IP Index (Index) can help policymakers understand the effectiveness of their economies’ current IP systems, so that they can pursue the right improvements and drive meaningful change. As the Index suggests, even the smallest step forward can make a big impact on trends like job creation; access to medicine; access to new music and movies; and venture capital and foreign investment.
As leaders map out the path forward for their IP agendas, they should first consider these top findings.
Twenty-eight economies’ scores remained unchanged from the last edition of the IP Index, signaling that progress to improve global IP protection may be stagnating. Even more unsettling, nine economies lost points between editions. Still, there was still modest progress to bolster IP protection in some markets, with 18 economies improving their scores. Morocco, Thailand, and Vietnam had the largest improvements in their overall scores, and Asia had the largest improvement in the regional average score.
Discussions at multilateral organizations and in capitals are driving the misconception that IP protections are a barrier to innovation. Ongoing negotiations within the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization to waive IP rights continue to push the misguided narrative that IP impedes access to medicine. Likewise, policy proposals in Washington, D.C. and the EU fundamentally mischaracterize the role IP protection plays in the life sciences sector.
The emergence of new technologies illustrate IP’s continued influence to the growth of cutting-edge innovation. Economies with the most effective IP frameworks are more likely to have increased availability to the latest information and communications technologies (ICTs) — like 5G — and a better ability to deploy them successfully. On the other hand, economies that utilize localization policies, onerous licensing requirements, and forced technology transfer will stymie access and deployment of those same technologies and miss out on the associated economic benefits.
Global momentum to enhance copyright enforcement continues to grow and fuel positive action against copyright-infringing content online. Many economies are rightfully prioritizing creators over pirates. In Latin America, Peru’s national IP office and Brazil’s “Operation 404 against piracy” campaign disabled access to hundreds of piracy websites. In Canada, the Federal Court issued a dynamic injunction requiring Canadian ISPs to disable access to infringing online live streams of National Hockey League matches. Similarly, in the United States, the U.S. District Court issued injunctions ordering American ISPs to disable access to illegal online content.
These insights — and all the insights in the Index — can help decision makers step up and stand up for better IP protections, so we can all benefit from the fruits of unbridled innovation. To learn more, check out the U.S. Chamber International IP Index and interactive map.