Last month, Las Vegas hosted the biggest and most important consumer technology event of the year – the 53rd annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES). These types of events – environments that promote invention, entrepreneurship, and hard work – are what makes America the world’s leader in innovation. That’s why it was so encouraging to see White House Advisor Ivanka Trump attending the event and speaking about the incredible value that innovators add to our country.
In particular, Trump discussed the importance of creating new education and training opportunities for innovators as part of President Donald Trump's "Pledge to America's Workers." This pledge is a national campaign for training and reskilling workers for high-demand jobs and industries of the future – like tech.
This is an important campaign and one that deserves our attention. But, we can't let our pledge to America’s workers take away from the needs of America's innovators. We need to protect America's workers by protecting our intellectual property.
As we support American students and young adults, we must also encourage and protect innovators. Patented innovations are what foster the currently booming technology industry and the jobs associated with it, but, right now, we are not properly incentivizing innovation.
The United States has weak intellectual property (IP) laws that allow massive companies to take advantage of smaller ones. Larger companies get away with ignoring patents by weaponizing their larger and more influential legal teams – this further encourages companies to invest in litigators rather than innovators. It's time we do something about this perverse incentive. America needs more inventors, not lawyers.
Patent protection is not only an issue domestically, but also internationally. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce notes, "When countries invest in more effective IP frameworks, the economic benefits are far-reaching…" The U.S. is currently lacking an effective IP framework, and it shows on the international stage. As I’ve noted before, the Trump administration estimates that the dollar amount of American intellectual property stolen by China is about $600 billion. The Administration also estimates that this theft has resulted in the loss of tens of millions of jobs.
American workers and innovators deserve better protection than this, and it’s time they get it. CES provides the world’s top minds with a valuable platform to discuss the tech world’s most pressing issues, and it provided the Administration with an opportunity to affirm their commitment to fostering a healthy workforce. This rhetoric is important, but it’s time that we all work together to make sure these words turn to action. American inventors hold more of the world’s patents than any other country in the world, and that has allowed us a massive trade surplus – we need to make sure these patents mean something.
America’s workers are receiving the attention and support they deserve, and that doesn’t need to be sacrificed in the mission to protect America’s innovators. A #PledgeToAmericasInnovators is simple but necessary: protect America’s inventors, encourage competition, and solidify America’s position as the worldwide leader in technological innovation.
Arvin Patel is Chief Intellectual Property Officer and EVP at TiVo.