According to a new report, intellectual property (IP)-intensive industries, such as computer and peripheral equipment, pharmaceutical and medicines, medical equipment, and semiconductor and other electronic components, were responsible in 2010, directly and indirectly, for 1 in 4 jobs in the United States and contributed more than $5 trillion to, or 34.8 percent of, the gross domestic product (GDP).  

The report, “Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus,” was prepared by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It starts from the premise, “The granting and protection of intellectual property rights is vital to promoting innovation and creativity and is an essential element of our free-enterprise, market-based systems.”  

For the first time, government researchers identified the most IP-intensive industries (75 out of 313) in the United States and then examined “both the important trends and economic characteristics of these highly IP-intensive industries and their meaningful contributions to the U.S. economy.” They caution that the statistics reported “may tend to under-represent the broad impact of IP in the American economy,” due to the reliance on IP “to some degree” by nearly all industries, and that they “may not fully reflect the long-run economic benefits and costs of IP in promoting innovation and productivity growth.” Not intended to recommend any policy or to “directly advance particular policy issues,” the report was developed to “promote a better understanding of the industries where IP plays a particularly important role.”  

Among other findings, the report notes that while “overall employment in IP-intensive industries has lagged other industries during the last two decades,” growth in this sector outpaced others during the 2010-2011 economic recovery period and average wages compare well to other jobs. “Average weekly wages for IP-intensive industries were $1,156 in 2010 or 42 percent higher than the $815 average weekly wages in other (non-IPintensive) private industries.”  

According to the report, “Patent- and copyright-intensive industries have seen particularly fast wage growth in recent years, with the wage premium in patent-intensive industries increasing from 66 percent in 2005 to 73 percent in 2010, and the premium in copyright-intensive industries rising from 65 percent to 77 percent.” The data also apparently showed that merchandise exports from these industry sectors accounted for 60.7 percent of total U.S. merchandise exports.