Today, Intellectual Property is also one of our nation’s most important assets. Consider the economic contributions that many copyright-intensive industries make every year: $1.2 trillion from the biopharmaceutical sector in 2014, $15 billion from the recording industry in 2015 and $10.3 billion from the film industry that same year. And, these industries support 57.6 million American jobs.

Brian Pomper, executive director of ACTION for Trade, sat down with Inside Counsel to discuss the ways in which IP contributes to our country, as well as ways we can better protect it. ACTION is a new coalition of trade associations and businesses on a mission to implement better protections for U.S. IP while shaping trade policy.

“IP-intensive industries drive innovation in the U.S. and cement its role as the world’s most innovative nation,” he said. “These industries invest more money in research and development than their peers. For instance, IP-intensive manufacturing firms spend nearly 12 times more on R&D per employee than non-IP industries.”

In 2015, the U.S. recording industry reported roughly $15 billion in revenues; the film industry logged more than $10 billion. The publishing industry contributed $60 billion to the U.S. economy that same year. But, beyond just the numbers, exports of U.S. movies, music, and software are an important source of America’s soft power, spreading American culture around the world.

IP-intensive industries are some of the top job producers in this country, according to Pomper. About 60 million people work in IP-intensive industries. And they’re well compensated — employees within IP-intensive industries are paid 45 percent more than those who work in non-IP industries. Ninety-six percent of firms in IP-intensive manufacturing industries are small businesses, and between 2002 and 2006, small firms received 15 times more patents per employee than did large firms.

“Stronger protections for copyrights, patents, and trademarks in trade agreements and trade policy are needed to protect intellectual property. U.S. IP protections typically end at the U.S. border,” he explained. “So, in many nations, American innovators can see their handiwork counterfeited or pirated with impunity. Nearly half of all U.S. businesses have lost money because of IP theft.”

In addition, U.S. authorities must strongly enforce laws protecting copyrights, trademarks, and patents. For instance, border patrol agents could be more proactive about confiscating counterfeit goods before they enter the U.S.

Pomper said, “Judges could levy stiffer penalties on those who violate laws protecting intellectual property. And nations must work together to more effectively protect their citizens’ IP.”