In a fascinating profile of Thomas Edison that appeared recently in Time Magazine I was reminded once again of Edison’s importance to America’s historic strength in science, innovation and discovery. Edison’s goal was to create a “minor invention” every ten days and a “major invention” every six months. His track record was astounding: 1,093 total patents and key breakthroughs such as the phonograph, storage battery, early motion picture technology and the filament that made the light bulb work, to name just a few.
Strong intellectual property protection has been a key to the legacy of Edison and to America’s continued technology leadership. Cisco therefore welcomes the recent announcement of the first ever US National IP Strategy. A significant landmark in the protection of US inventiveness, creativity and innovation, the strategy is result of an extraordinary collaboration among Federal agencies, led by Victoria Espinel, the recently appointed and first US IP Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC).
The Constitution tells us that legal protection of intellectual property rights is not an end in-and-of-itself; rather, those rights are established and protected in order to “promote the progress of science and useful arts.” Effective IPR protection results in advancements in science and the arts; ineffective IPR protection hinders further discovery and innovation. The Administration’s effort is a big step in the right direction.
This plan is the culmination of extensive outreach and consultation with government, industry and consumers by Ms. Espinel and her team. The legislation that created the office of the IP Enforcement Coordinator was championed by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as great a friend of innovation as has ever served in that role. The 2008 PRO IP Act established the post in the White House Office of Management and Budget and directed it to report to Congress on its strategic plans to better enforce our nation’s intellectual property regime. Ms. Espinel has brought to life Senator Leahy’s vision with her efforts to drive to crack down on those who would steal intellectual property and create counterfeit goods which undermine the lifeblood of our economy by denying enterprises the fruits of their labors, and who would endanger national security by providing fake goods. Already she’s making a difference in working to improve Department of Homeland Security efforts to intercept fake goods at our borders.
Cisco welcomes suggestions in the report to improve coordination among all levels of law enforcement and between the private and public sector, and supports the Administration and Congress in their implementation of its recommendations. Ms. Epinel’s commitment to interagency coordination has resulted in a comprehensive, mutually-reinforcing plan to address all aspects of intellectual property theft which costs our economy billions of dollars each year and poses risks to our economic and national security.
As one of America’s most innovative companies, we at Cisco look forward to working with the Ms. Espinel and her team as they implement this plan.