Technology Administration - The Changing Wealth of Nations: Intellectual Property in the Age of Innovation
Remarks by Bruce P. Mehlman Assistant Secretary for Technology Policy, United States Department of Commerce
Delivered May 3, 2002
at the Licensing Executives Society Spring Meeting Washington, DC
Early in Margaret Mitchell's war time classic Gone with the Wind, southern aristocrats bar-b-queing on Wilkes' plantation debate how long it will take them to "whip the Yankees." "One Southerner can lick twenty Yankees," proclaims one guest, because "Gentlemen can always fight better than rattle."
For the first of several times, Rhett Butler shows his contrarian streak by observing "there's not a cannon factory in the whole South.. [while the North has] factories, shipyards, coalmines. and a fleet." His point, made by Ms. Mitchell with 76 years of hindsight, was that in 1860 the strength of nations depended far less upon the bravery and training of gentlemen-soldiers and far more on manufacturing and transportation capacities. Having started in England 50 years prior, the Industrial Revolution was well under way. The winners would be those nations with access to critical materials and advanced production capabilities.
Over the next century, railroads and coal expanded to airports and oil, but the story of the industrial era remained largely dominated by material resources and production infrastructure. Then, during the second half of the 20th Century, another trend began emerging, and by Century's end a new information age was upon us. Ladies and gentlemen, knowledge - ideas - is the new coin of the realm, with innovative capacity the key driver of future economic productivity and wealth creation.
Thanks very much for inviting me to join you today. Your work is essential to America's innovative capacity - our intellectual property regime and education system will determine our success in the 21st Century. My friend Nick Godici just told you about some of the exciting efforts at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. For my part I'd like to offer my Technology Administration's perspective on:
WHY KNOWLEDGE IS KING
The wealth of nations is indeed changing. And while it may still take some time before the hydrogen economy replaces oil, the impact of innovation and technology on our society is already profound and unmistakable. Just look at the out-sized impacts of information industries.
Emerging technologies promise even greater economic impact and disruption. For example, the National Science Foundation predicts the market for nanotechnology products and services will reach over $1 trillion by 2015 in the United States alone. Leading experts gathered by NSF predicted nanotech's impact will be at least as significant as antibiotics, the integrated circuit and man-made polymers were in the 20th century.
THE GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS FOR U.S. COMPETITIVENESS
Now the growing importance of knowledge and innovation presents both good news and bad news for the United States relative to our global competitors. On the one hand, by almost any measure, America is the most innovative nation on earth.
Notwithstanding our advantages and current leadership, the rest of the world is not blind to the importance of innovative capacity in the 21st century, and they're not standing still. America's global competitiveness faces pressure on multiple fronts including:
The world is not standing still.
THE BUSH HIGH TECH AGENDA
With intellectual output playing such a critical role in our economy, society and global competitiveness, the Bush Administration is pursuing a high tech agenda that seeks to maximize the creation, protection and commercialization of intellectual property. Specifically, our policies promote innovation, support entrepreneurship, improve infrastructure and empower people.
To promote innovation, the President has proposed aggressive investments in research & development. Our 2002 budget crossed the $100 billion mark for the first time (at $103B), and we have proposed $112 billion for 2003 - the largest R&D commitment in our nation's history. We're also asking Congress to make the R&D tax credit permanent, to reflect the importance of private investments in R&D, which are twice as large as government's. We're seeking to strengthen intellectual property protection - both by devoting far more resources to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (21% more in 2003), and by enforcing IPR aggressively at home and abroad. Additionally, the President has asked Congress to devote another $200 million to improving math and science teaching at the K-12 level, working with regional teacher colleges and the NSF to improve math & science curricula.
To support entrepreneurs, the Bush Administration passed a bipartisan tax cut that many experts credit with moderating the recession of 2001. The President recently signed an economic stimulus package that extends unemployment benefits for laid-off workers, and accelerates depreciation schedules for businesses that invest in capital equipment
- a key to sustaining our tech-led economic growth. He continues to push an aggressive free trade agenda around the world, asking Congress for Trade Promotion Authority as was enjoyed by the previous five Chief Executives, and working through the WTO to reduce barriers to trade and increase international cooperation in protecting intellectual property. Additionally, we're asking Congress to reform the Export Administration Act to make it less burdensome for our technology companies to export new tech equipment consistent with national security concerns.
To improve our innovation infrastructure, the President's technology priorities include hardening the nation's defenses, especially critical infrastructure protection and cyber security; implementing a national energy plan that uses technology to improve energy efficiency while expanding domestic capacities; supporting the deployment and usage of high-speed Internet (broadband) networks in a number of different ways, both on the supply and demand sides; and working to ensure we manage the radio spectrum most effectively. The information infrastructure is particularly important in the information age, and broadband usage may soon be the critical factor separating leading economies from the rest.
Lastly, to empower people, the President made e-government a top tier priority for the Administration, leveraging unprecedented federal investments in IT - $52 billion proposed for 2003, a 15% increase - to provide more services to citizens and operate government more efficiently. Of greatest importance to this President may be the bipartisan efforts to improve our nation's education system, epitomized by the No Child Left Behind Act signed last year. To remain globally competitive - both as a tech-led economy and as the most-inclusive opportunity society - we must place education first, and that's what President Bush is doing.
IP ISSUES AT THE OFFICE OF TECHNOLOGY POLICY
In pursuit of this agenda, my office likewise focuses on policies to promote innovation, support entrepreneurs, improve infrastructure and empower people. We're working on several intellectual property questions of interest to many of you including:
If innovation and entrepreneurship profoundly shaped the 20th century, they will define the 21st. Knowledge development and commercialization are the new drivers of economic growth, both in the U.S. and around the world. Our ability to create new innovations and harness their power will directly impact our national prosperity, security and global influence. And our willingness and ability to protect intellectual property, combined with our education system, will dictate the pace of innovation and investment in future research around the world.
American technological leadership is anything but assured in today's global economy. In fact, American leadership is very much at stake. Longer-term, we face more significant challenges to our innovative capacity and global competitiveness than we have ever faced before.
Once again I appreciate your having me here and I congratulate all of you for your commitment and efforts to strengthen the development and protection of America's intellectual assets. Your work is critical to our economic strength and long-term prosperity, and we look forward to working with you to ensure our nation remains the leader in technology and innovation. Our future depends on our success. Thank you.
Created: November 19, 2007