Larson: We Must Protect the Work of American Innovators and Entrepreneurs
(Washington) – Today, Congressman John B. Larson spoke to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on intellectual property in India. The event, hosted by the Global Intellectual Property Center, focused on India's recent legal and policy decisions, and how they are impacting intellectual property rights.
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery:
Over the past year, I've become very concerned by what I've heard regarding the environment for American businesses operating in India. Whether it be patent violations and compulsory licensing in the pharmaceutical industries; piracy within the software and film industries; local content rules in the technology sector; or forced localization in the Green Tech industries, the news coming out of India has not been good for American innovators.
I took interest in this issue because I fundamentally believe that as a government it is our responsibility to protect the work created by American innovators and entrepreneurs. I also realized that by protecting our IP rights, we are in effect protecting American jobs and the potential for American businesses to grow. America is at its heart a nation of innovators, and millions of American jobs rely on this innovation. Whether you work at an aerospace company, like Pratt & Whitney; a pharmaceutical company, such as Pfizer; or even a movie studio, such as Blue Sky, you owe your job to innovation. Put more succinctly, you owe your job to the fact that the United States and our international partners understand that an innovator has a right to own what they create and takes steps to ensure that this right is protected.
What would happen if all of a sudden there were no protections for our intellectual property? Would the next drug to address heart disease be developed if our drug companies thought a competitor had a right to steal their innovation? How would they ever expect to recoup the costs of the research and development they put into that drug's development? Although what we're seeing take place isn't nearly that dramatic, it's critical that we nonetheless address the challenges we're facing with India head on. We must ensure that the rights that come with a patent are protected and that decisions by our foreign allies are made in accordance with international obligations. India, as we all know, is one of the world's largest economies, and provides American companies one of their greatest growth markets. Add that to the fact that India is a leader among the developing world, with many nations taking their cues from the Indian Government, and it is clear that this issue cannot go unaddressed. I'm an optimist, though. I continue to believe that the United States and India can find a "win-win" solution to our current challenges.
I know that you've just heard from my colleague Eric Paulsen of Minnesota. I was happy to work with him last month on a letter to the President that highlighted our concerns with what is occurring in India. As you know, we received quite a bit of support on our letter with more than 150 Members from both sides of the aisle signing on. I think that proved that, for the most part, Members still understand – even if it doesn't always show through the partisan, tastes great, less filling arguments – that the top concern on their constituents' minds is job creation.
Thankfully, the President gets it. As a result of our letter and others like it, and the work of organizations like the Global IP Center, Secretary of State Kerry broached this issue during his recent visit to India. And more recently, our new USTR Ambassador – Michael Froman – who I just heard from this morning, spoke eloquently on these challenges at a meeting of the U.S.-India Business Council. These efforts by the Congress, the Administration, and the business community are hopefully leading to results. Already I've seen reports coming out of India that changes are being implemented. We'll keep up our efforts up on Capitol Hill until we see real results as opposed to simply hearing about actions. As my Grandpa Nolan would always say, "Trust everyone, but cut the cards."