Latest USPTO report finds industries that intensively use intellectual property protection account for over 41% of U.S. gross domestic product, employ one-third of total workforce

Press Release

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WASHINGTON — The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today released the latest edition of its report highlighting the economic contributions of industries that make greater use of intellectual property (IP) protection, including patents, trademarks, and copyrights, titled "Intellectual property and the U.S. economy: Third edition.”

"Intellectual property protection is vital for American innovation and entrepreneurship,” said United States Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “This report underscores the key benefits associated with a strong intellectual property system and reinforces the Biden administration’s commitment to expanding our innovation economy by ensuring that more Americans have equitable access to the goods, services, and quality jobs that stem from American innovation. Employees working in IP-intensive industries are more likely to earn higher wages compared to non-IP-intensive industries. IP protection isn’t just good for American businesses, it’s good for American workers.”

The latest report found that in 2019, 127 IP-intensive industries in sectors such as manufacturing; wholesale and retail trade; and professional, technical, management, and administrative services accounted for $7.8 trillion in U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), or 41% of total GDP. Direct employment in these industries accounted for 47.2 million jobs in 2019, or 33% of total U.S. employment. Indirect employment—jobs created in other industries that depend at least partially on final sales in IP-intensive industries—accounted for an additional 11% of U.S. employment. In total, IP-intensive industries contributed 44% of U.S. employment.

Additionally, for the first time, the report provides data that offers greater insight into the demographics of workers in IP-intensive industries.

“Patents, trademarks, and copyrights are the means for establishing ownership rights to the creations, inventions, and brands that bring tangible economic benefits to their owners,” said Drew Hirshfeld, Performing the Functions and Duties of the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “For the third report in the series, we describe the contributions of IP-intensive industries, while also showcasing insightful new data on demographics. A strong IP system benefits every innovative community across America, from rural towns to bustling cities.”

The report found a substantial wage premium for workers in IP-intensive industries, with average weekly earnings 60% higher than that received by workers in other industries. States in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Upper Midwest, and West Coast regions generally had the highest concentrations of workers in IP-intensive industries.

Relative to workers in non-IP-intensive industries, workers in IP-intensive industries were more likely to:

  • Earn higher wages
  • Work in larger companies (500 employees or more)
  • Participate in employer-sponsored health insurance plans
  • Participate in employer-sponsored retirement plans
  • Have a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree

In terms of overall workforce composition, the report found that women and minorities, except for those of Asian descent, were underrepresented in IP-intensive industries. Women comprised 43.7% of the workforce in IP-intensive industries, versus 54% in non-IP-intensive industries. The report further shows that Blacks and Hispanics respectively comprised 8.9% and 13% of the workforce in IP-intensive industries, versus 13.9% and 19.5% in non-IP-intensive industries.

The report observes that employment in IP-intensive industries tended to track general economy-wide upturns and downturns. Notably, by 2019, IP-intensive industries appeared to have recovered completely from the employment losses they experienced after the dot-com collapse of the early 2000s and the recession of 2007-2009.

This most recent update is the latest in a series of reports focused on the economic contributions of IP-intensive industries. The USPTO published previous reports in 2012 and 2016.

See the full report online.

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