Innovation for a Greener, Cleaner Planet

Apr 22, 2010

For forty years now, we have celebrated Earth Day. And with each passing decade we have become more and more aware of the importance of sound environmental stewardship for ourselves and our children. We have made great progress over the years, but we also realize that more must be done to protect our natural resources and keep our environment clean.

We also know that this can be achieved in large part through the creation of advanced technologies that use less fossil-based fuels, operate more cleanly and efficiently, help clean the air and water, or even bring us alternative energies. These innovations will come mostly from the private sector, as have most advances in human history. They will require a great amount of time, effort, money, resources, and imagination. And as important, they will require a global system of rights and laws that protect the intellectual property (IP)—the ideas and creations of the mind—that will come from these talented inventors and entrepreneurs. It is these IP rights that will not only incentivize innovation by promising a return on investment for successful endeavors, but will also protect these ideas from individuals and governments who might be tempted to “steal” these inventions. These rights will drive the innovation and creativity that lead to the new products that will improve the environment.

Encouraging the development of new earth-friendly technologies through strong and enforced IP rights will also help us create millions of jobs in the United States and around the world. Research shows that a strong intellectual property (IP) system will also support the creation of over 2 million jobs in the European Union (EU) over the next 20 years, and nearly 10 million jobs in India by 2025. And while these same technologies promise to spur millions of new jobs in this country as well, another study shows that weakened IP laws could cost the United States over 1 million jobs in the next ten years. 

Most people would agree that a strong intellectual property rights system is critical to not only protecting the environment by spurring new technologies that will do just that, but to also enhancing America’s economic growth and improving our quality of life at the same time. As such, the role of IP rights in our environmental stewardship is something to ponder as we celebrate Earth Day.

And on Monday, April 26---World IP Day---please tune in to learn more about a new study that demonstrates the impact of innovation and intellectual property on American productivity, competitiveness, jobs, wages and exports.

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