Intellectual property strongly supports economies, jobs and wages in Europe

By Ideas Matter

Companies’ use and reliance on intellectual property (IP) protection for their innovations and creative works strongly supports the economies, jobs, and employee wages in European countries, according to a recent detailed study by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

The third such study published by the EPO/EUIPO, “Intellectual property rights intensive industries and economic performance in the European Union”, identifies the industries that make above-average use of intellectual property rights, and looks at the contribution that these sectors make to GDP, trade, employment and wages in the 28 EU countries plus Norway, Switzerland and Iceland.  Included in the study are “IP-intensive” sectors that use any of the major IP rights including patents, trade marks, copyright, designs, geographical indications and/or plant varieties.

The study’s major findings can be summarised as follows:

IP supports the economy.  IP-intensive industries provide €6.552 trillion of Europe’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—approximately 45% of Europe’s total GDP.  These sectors also represent the vast bulk of Europe’s trade, producing 82% of Europe’s exports and a €130 billion trade surplus.

IP supports jobs.  IP-intensive sectors directly generate 29% (63 million) of all jobs in Europe, and indirectly support another 21 million jobs in other companies that supply goods and services to these sectors.  Direct and indirectly generated jobs together amount to 84 million, 39% of all jobs in European countries.  Employment in IP-intensive sectors grew by 1.3 million jobs since the previous EPO/EUIPO study, while overall employment had in fact declined slightly.

IP supports employee wages.  IP-intensive industries also pay average wages much higher than in non-IP-intensive sectors—47% higher, on average. 

The President of the European Patent Office, António Campinos, commented: “The importance of IPR-intensive industries reflects the strength of the knowledge-based economy in Europe. Businesses in these sectors often file bundles of intellectual property rights in combination to protect their intellectual assets. This strategy creates products and services with high added value, and in doing so helps secure Europe’s long-term competitiveness.”

The Executive Director of the EUIPO, Christian Archambeau, echoed these views, “Industries that use intellectual property rights intensively play a crucial role in making the EU more prosperous and in securing its economic future. These industries are more resilient in the face of economic crisis and more innovative. Our challenge is to ensure that all firms and entrepreneurs can secure their IP rights, particularly SMEs.”

For a complete copy of the report, summaries, commentary and other key findings, see the EPO site here, and the EUIPO site here