The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been both significant and far-reaching. With large swaths of the U.S. economy ground to a halt, experts forecast that the pandemic has sparked what likely will be the worst recession in generations. These are surely unprecedented times, and it is difficult-to-impossible to predict much with any degree of certainty. That said, history has a tendency to repeat itself, and a look back at past economic declines provides a glimpse of what is to come, so that companies, intellectual property practitioners and other stakeholders alike can plan and strategize accordingly.

Economic Downturns: The Basics and Recent History

Our cyclical economy naturally experiences periods of expansion and contraction. These periods of economic contraction, or recessions, have been defined, historically, as two consecutive quarters of decline in gross domestic product (GDP). They are typically characterized by decreases in a number of economic metrics, including income, employment, manufacturing, and retail sales, with the most recent periods of economic contraction being the Great Recession of 2008, the early 2000s dot-com bust, and the savings and loan crisis of the early 1990s.

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