Every day, the crown jewels of the U.S. economy—our intellectual property— are being stolen by America’s economic competitors. China is the main culprit, and the theft goes well beyond pirated DVDs.
This is theft of the very secrets—like product designs, manufacturing and engineering processes— that allow a company to establish and maintain a competitive advantage. When that advantage is lost, so too are the sales and the jobs that depend on it.
Just as concerning as the illegal theft of U.S. IP is the voluntary legal transfer of ideas and technologies from U.S. companies to foreign companies, many of them linked to the Chinese government.
U.S. companies are trading the short-term gain of access to China’s huge consumer market for the long-term loss of competitive advantage in areas ranging from renewable energy and electric cars to microchips, smart phones and cloud computing.
While the federal government has failed to properly safeguard U.S. IP assets abroad, it has also failed to promote innovation at home.
Federal investments in basic research—the kind of exploration that is often too risky or expensive for the private sector—has dropped to a historic low as a share of our economy and of the federal budget. Meanwhile, the U.S. patent system—which grants all-important intellectual property rights to inventors—is a bureaucratic and legal mess.
Collectively, these problems paint the picture of a federal government that is not summoning the political will or the resources to protect and promote U.S. innovation.