Global Progress in IP Threatened by Anti-IP Policy Proposals, Warns U.S. Chamber

The Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued its 11th annual International IP Index, which covers 55 economies that represent “most of the global economic output, together contributing over 90% of global GDP.” The report suggests that the global wave of anti-IP policy proposals may be slowing IP progress. While 18 economies saw modest progress on IP protection improvements, 28 economies, including many of the high-scorers, like the United States and the United Kingdom, had a 0% change in score. Only two countries had a 0% change in the 10th edition of the Index.

The report warns that recent proposals at the multilateral and national levels threaten to weaken IP frameworks. Specifically, the report calls out the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) waiver of IP rights for COVID-related vaccine technologies, the United States’ consideration of various changes to the patent system in an attempt to reduce drug prices, and the European Union’s proposals to reduce the term of regulatory data protection, among others.

The GIPC has come out strongly against the United States’ May 2021 decision to back a waiver of IP rights for COVID technologies. The 2023 Index dedicates a large section of the report to the COVID IP waiver decision as “taking a wrong turn,” as well as to many EU countries’ IP rights policies as generating “mixed signals.”

The report suggests that the continued deployment of 5G and other information communication technologies may be threatened by trends toward policies that create barriers to licensing and that target standard-essential patents (SEPs).

The report warns that if the United States will not lead in championing the rights of creators and innovators, the price of bad IP policies is steep by undermining access to new technologies, medicines, and creative entertainment worldwide. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 allows the U.S. Government to negotiate drug prices under a set framework based upon the amount of time a drug has spent on the market. A report published in July 2022 found that such measures have significant, negative effects on patient access to new therapies because they severely curtail funding for research and development.

Last year’s International IP Index analyzed ten years of data to reveal that the global IP environment has steadily improved overall, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that emerging economies are particularly making a conscious decision to bolster their IP regimes. This year, the focus is largely on a potentially stagnating global IP economy—though there were some bright spots.

There was considerable action taken in 2022 against piracy and copyright-infringing content online, with major strides made in Peru, Brazil, Canada, and the United States. The report also touts the positive economic impact of 5G technologies, enabled by strong IP frameworks. According to the Index, 5G deployment has contributed over $100 billion to U.S. GDP, and “studies estimate that the 5G standard will contribute $1.5 trillion to U.S. GDP and create or transform 16 million U.S. jobs by 2025.”

While the biggest players’ scores stayed largely flat, there were some slight improvements. France’s score jumped up by 1.02% to 93.12%; China’s score increased by 2% to 57.86%; and Thailand and Morocco’s scores both jumped up by 2.50%. The United States had a 0% change, remaining at 95.48%, while Russia’s score plummeted 21.62% due to its wartime IP policies, which were implemented to punish international rightsholders.

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