From AEI, something to remember when we're told that the middle class in America is disappearing. …
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Image of the Day: Middle Class Shrinking... In a Good Way

From AEI, something to remember when we're told that the middle class in America is disappearing.  It's disappearing because people are moving upward:

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[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="1569"] Middle Class Disappearing... Upward[/caption]

 

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August 19, 2019 • 10:12 am

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In 2018, Focus on Intellectual Property Rights Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, January 25 2018
After placing first every year in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's annual worldwide patent protection ranking, the U.S. has now fallen to tenth.

The year 2017 witnessed remarkable progress in the realms of deregulation and tax reform, with immediate economic benefits. 

So how do we maintain that positive momentum through 2018 and beyond? 

There's no better place to focus than intellectual property (IP) rights, which former patent attorney Abraham Lincoln once observed "added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius in the discovery of new and useful things." 

Throughout American history, we've maintained the world's strongest protections for intellectual property (IP) rights.  We also stand unrivaled as the most innovative, inventive, prosperous and powerful nation in human history. 

That constitutes a direct, causal relationship, not a coincidental one. 

When our Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution, they deliberately protected IP within its text.  Article I, Section 8 specifies that, "Congress shall have Power ... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." 

That provision reflects the Founders' foundational natural rights philosophy.  Specifically, the Founders recognized that the importance of protecting IP - whether in the form of patents, copyrights or trademarks - is no different than protecting all other forms of personal property.  Most fundamentally, that secures for individual citizens the right to enjoy the fruits of their own labor. 

In addition to protecting individuals' inherent right to the fruits of their labor, however, the Founders understood that protecting IP rights also incentivizes innovation and industriousness.  James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, cogently summarized that intersection of inherent rights and utilitarian incentive when he observed, "The public good fully coincides in both cases with the claims of individuals." 

The U.S. Supreme Court, when addressing the same issue nearly two centuries later, held that, "encouragement of individual effort by personal gain is the best way to advance public welfare through the talents of authors and inventors," and that, "sacrificial days devoted to such creative activities deserve rewards commensurate with the services rendered." 

Over two centuries of American innovation, and prosperity on an unprecedented scale, manifest the soundness of that dual natural rights and utilitarian philosophy. 

IP-related sectors now account for $5.8 trillion of the American economy, or 35% of our total gross domestic product (GDP).  To put that number in perspective, it exceeds the GDP of any other nation in the world. 

Additionally, IP industries also account for fully 74% of American exports, almost $1 trillion in total value. 

American IP enterprises also employ over 40 million workers, and enjoy growth rates that exceed non-IP sectors.   Workers in IP-centric industries also enjoy wages approximately 30% higher than other industries - approximately $51,000 versus the U.S. average of $39,000 annually. 

Unfortunately, as with other sectors of the economy, we witnessed an erosion of American IP supremacy during the Obama years.  

That's particularly true in the field of patent rights. 

After placing first every year in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's annual worldwide patent protection ranking, the U.S. has now fallen to tenth.  That's a direct result of fairly recent changes that weakened our patent system, including damaging legislation, policies that expanded post-patent administrative review proceedings and judicial branch decisions that weakened patent enforcement and substantive protections.  And a new government bureaucracy created in 2012 - the Patent and Trademark Appeals Board (PTAB) - earned the label "patent death squad" by one former federal judge because it eliminates at least one existing patent in an unacceptable 81% of petitions that come before it. 

In our increasingly competitive global economy, that's simply intolerable.  To safeguard our worldwide IP advantage, we must enact laws that encourage tech-intensive small businesses, protect our advantage versus European and Asian competitors and protect vulnerable American jobs. 

Fortunately, a new bill in Congress introduced by Sen. Tom Cotton (R - AR) and Chris Coons (D - DE) can help correct our recent downward trajectory. 

Their Support Technology and Research for Our Nation's Growth and Economic Resilience (STRONGER) Patents Act of 2017 would help ensure that patents receive the same protections as other forms of property.  It would further permit patent owners to obtain injunctions against infringement during and after litigation, improve and clarify the process by which patents are granted and enforced, restore balance to the post-patent review process by the Patent Trial and Appeal board  and reform the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's fee process. 

Along with companion House legislation, Congress can send a bipartisan bill to President Trump for signature, and reverse the disturbing recent erosion of U.S. patent supremacy in recent years.  With patent and other IP rights playing an increasingly central role in our digital and global economy, we simply can't afford to continue our current trend. 

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