Related Content:Secretary Clinton Recognizes World Intellectual Property DayAbout the Author: Jose W. Fernandez serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs.
April 26, 2010 marks the 10th annual celebration of World Intellectual Property (IP) Day. World IP Day is the one day of the year when we pause to reflect on what IP does for us, giving artists and inventors the resources they need to do what they do best: think and imagine things that no one else has thought of. The development of a workable system of intellectual property enforcement has allowed these creative people to accelerate the pace of innovation and transform our lives. As Secretary Clinton said, "The United States has celebrated and protected innovation and creativity since George Washington signed the first American patent in 1790."
The theme of this year "Innovation -- Linking the World" highlights how innovation has drawn us together, enabling us to exchange information and ideas almost instantly and linking distant communities. You could point to dozens of other aspects of innovation -- the impact that medical innovation has made on the length and quality of our lives, the role of agricultural innovation in feeding a burgeoning population, the new arts that entertain us and expand our perception of the world -- all of these depend on a healthy system of property rights that enable inventors and artists to reap the benefits of their work.
On World IP Day I will be going to Capitol Hill to participate in an event organized by the Institute for Policy Innovation to discuss intellectual property enforcement and highlight the importance of these issues. The State Department takes intellectual property enforcement very seriously, and promotes polices that protect U.S. innovation and the competitiveness of our IP-intensive industries -- industries that drive nearly half of the U.S. economy and account for nearly sixty per cent of our exports.
One of our initiatives is finding new and more effective ways to combat counterfeit medicines and increase access to legitimate medicines. The problem of counterfeit medicines is not simply that they usually violate the intellectual property rights of legitimate companies, but that they are misleading, ineffective or even harmful to consumers. Some studies indicate that not only are developing country markets flooded with counterfeit medicines, but that consumers are unaware of the dangers of these counterfeit medicines.
I am working with my staff to address the problem of counterfeit medicines by increasing consumer awareness and partnering with business, international bodies like WHO, and national regulatory authorities to limit the supply of counterfeit drugs and make legitimate drugs more accessible.
Innovation and intellectual property enforcement will become even more important in the future as we need to cope with new challenges, such as climate change, and effectively deal with old challenges, like hunger and poverty. Innovation will also be a key to creating new jobs and maintaining America's international competitiveness. I hope you will join with me today in reflecting on the importance of innovation and intellectual property in promoting prosperity around the world.