April 26, 2012: World Intellectual Property Day

Guest blogger: Victoria Espinel, U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. Read Victoria’s bio on WhiteHouse.gov!

Today is World Intellectual Property Day. Around the world, people will be celebrating the benefits and contributions of intellectual property to our societies. Intellectual property gives us art and entertainment. It drives the Internet and enables stunning advances in the fight against genetic and infectious disease. It stimulates our economy and creates well-paying jobs. It facilitates social networks and feeds the world.

Both the United States and Canada view the promotion and protection of intellectual property rights as a key component of their economic growth. President Obama and Prime Minister Harper have worked together to protect intellectual property, as they share the belief that the American and Canadian peoples deserve smart approaches to regulation that enhance economic competitiveness and public health. And when I think of intellectual property protection in the world market, my thoughts naturally turn to Canada: our largest trading partner and a world-renowned producer of intellectual property. That is why I visited Ottawa last year, and it is why I asked Ambassador Jacobson for the chance to reach out to the Canadian people on this very important day.

Protecting intellectual property is as important to Canada as it is to the United States. Research-based pharmaceutical companies employ thousands of people in Canada. The film and television industry employs thousands more in the production of movies and television series and contributes billions to the Canadian economy. Canada’s robust entertainment software industry has released some of the most popular video games in the industry.

Of course, protecting intellectual property is not just about new movies and better games. It is also a question of public safety. A key aspect of intellectual property protection is fighting the illicit trade of counterfeit goods. Although seizures of knock-off sneakers and hockey jerseys tend to garner the most media attention in Canada, the global market is home to a variety of dangerous counterfeit goods, such as ineffective or actively harmful fake medications, faulty car parts, and toys with choking hazards or poisonous content.

This World Intellectual Property Day, Americans and Canadians alike will reap the benefits of intellectual property in our everyday lives, from the smartphones in our pockets to the medicines in our pharmacies. We are surrounded by and prosper from our technology and our innovative ideas. And by celebrating and protecting these integral parts of our economies and societies, we will thrive in the 21st Century as partners and friends.

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