Thomas J. Donohue Thomas J. Donohue
Advisor and Former Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


March 04, 2019


Intellectual property (IP) rights are the backbone of our economy. They ensure that our inventors and entrepreneurs are rewarded for their ingenuity, laying the groundwork for continued innovation. And because American innovators operate everywhere in a global economy, it’s not enough for our own IP regime to be strong – other economies must also respect and protect IP rights.

That’s one reason why the U.S. Chamber’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) created the International IP Index – an annual report card that ranks the intellectual property framework of 50 countries. The Index is a roadmap for countries that aspire to greater economic growth, as well as an instrument for affecting global IP policy.

IP rights enable the research, investment, and risk-taking necessary for free enterprise to thrive. They are the lifeblood of a knowledge-based economy, which is why we are bringing all resources to bear in an effort to shore up IP protections in developing countries. Our ability to bring breakthrough medical treatments, the newest creative content, and cutting-edge technologies to global markets is contingent upon foreign governments fostering an innovation-friendly environment through strong IP laws. But some governments are slow to change. That’s where the IP Index comes in.

The 2019 Index benchmarks the IP environment in these 50 countries representing over 90% of international GDP. It shows countries how strong their IP laws are relative to neighbors and trading partners – and it provides them with incentives for change. Since we first unveiled the IP Index in 2012, multiple governments have reached out to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to discuss ways to raise their Index score. These governments recognize that by making simple tweaks to their IP infrastructure, they can be 39% more likely to attract foreign investment and 30% more likely to attract venture capital and private equity funds.

Spurred to action, in part, by their Index rankings, our friends overseas have worked directly with GIPC over the years on country-specific legislation to streamline patent licensing processes, strengthen copyright protections, and defend trade secrets for growing businesses. The fruits of our campaign include concrete policies that have revolutionized the IP environment in developing nations, resulting in greater investment, innovation, and prosperity for all.

Several countries have climbed in the rankings as a direct result of partnering with the Chamber on IP policy – and we expect many more to work with us in the future. These improvements will not only help countries strengthen their own economies; they will also help create a stronger global economy that drives innovation and improves life for all of us.

About the authors

Thomas J. Donohue

Thomas J. Donohue

Thomas J. Donohue is advisor and former chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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