Measuring IP’s economic benefits

07 October 2013

blog_presidentLast week in Brussels, at a press conference with Commissioner Michel Barnier and OHIM President António Campinos, I had the pleasure of presenting an EPO/OHIM joint study on the economic impact of intellectual property rights (IPR) in the EU. The study has a pioneering significance. Although some research has already been done on specific IP rights, and on IP in particular industrial sectors or countries, this is the first broad assessment of the value of intellectual property, quantifying the overall contribution of IP-intensive industries to the EU economy, in terms of GDP, employment, wages and trade, for all IP rights (patents, trade marks, designs, copyright and geographical indications).

Industry and policy-makers have long been calling for indicators to measure the economic effects of IPR. Hard evidence is needed to sustain the public debate on IP and its protection and ensure that the IPR system remains geared to the implementation of innovation policies that can deliver growth and employment. The EPO recently launched a new initiative in this area, by setting up the Economic and Scientific Advisory Board, an independent body with the task of examining the specific links between patents, the economy and society. And, under the aegis of OHIM, the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights began this year to carry out its mission of providing evidence-based data on the impact, role and public perception of intellectual property in the economy of the EU.

Regarding the new study presented in Brussels, the teams at the EPO and the OHIM are to be congratulated on their intensive cooperative efforts, especially in the development of a specific data base. To facilitate the comparison with other regions, we decided to re-use the ones recently implemented by the USPTO and WIPO (for copyrights). One of the conclusions is that both the EU and the US economies have similar economic structures, as the respective studies show. Some 26% of EU workers (56.5 million) are employed in these industries; if indirect employment is included, the figure rises to 77 million, accounting for 35% of all EU jobs. 39% of EU GDP (EUR 4.7 trillion) is generated in IPR-intensive sectors. Concerning EU trade, 90% of exports are products of IPR-intensive industries, mainly in advanced areas of technology; for imports, the proportion is almost as high. For further details, I recommend that you consult the study, which makes very interesting reading.

I should also point out that these impressive figures come from IP-intensive industry, which represents only a part of the IP user community. The current study looks at entire industries; in a second phase, to be completed by the first quarter of 2014, the data will be analysed at company level. Regarding geographical scope, time constraints unfortunately made it impossible to include the data from Croatia. However, this will be remedied as the study is to be updated regularly in the coming years and also extended to further European countries in order to present a more comprehensive picture.

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