The Oct. 10 Economy & Business article “Protections for drug firms in trade bill fuel fresh opposition” inaccurately referred to “monopolies” in discussing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Intellectual property rights are not monopolies. Rather, they protect the inventor’s property by affording the right to exclude others from commercially exploiting that which the inventor created. Were it not for the inventor, the public would not have the benefit of that invention.
The Constitution expressly acknowledges that the quid pro quo of a limited exclusive right in exchange for disclosure of the invention is an effective means for promoting the progress of the useful arts (Article I, Section 8). James Madison said the utility of that provision would scarcely be questioned and that the public good fully coincides with the claims of individuals (Federalist No. 43). By rewarding the productive use of our creative faculties, intellectual property protection enhances the human condition with new products, gives birth to new businesses and stimulates economies. Effective intellectual property protection and the number of patents granted are among the most reliable indicators of a robust and growing economy.
The TPP would set the period of data exclusivity for biologics to five or eight years; 12 years is now granted by the United States. Thus, the TPP would diminish intellectual property rights relative to those available in the United States. If improved health care is our goal, we must protect the incentives that bring about those improvements.
Brian P. O’Shaughnessy, Washington
The writer is USA regional vice president of the Licensing Executives Society.