Commerce Department's Own Study Debunks Commerce Department's Defense Of Said Study
from the *sigh* dept
So, back in April we wrote about a bizarre report from the US Commerce Department and the US Patent and Trademark Office, which tried to sum up the “jobs” in “IP-intensive” industries, as a measure of how important those laws were. As we noted last week, the White House reached out to us and offered up the experts behind the report for an interview — but when we submitted some questions (as they asked us to do prior to setting up the final interview), they suddenly rescinded that offer and offered up this bizarre and nonsensical statement about how Steve Jobs had lots of patents and Steve Jobs created cool products, so patents are important. They did nothing to refute the insane methodology of the study that attributes all of the jobs of people working in grocery stores, insurance companies, clothing stores and more to “IP intensive industries.” Nor do they explain why the report is useful in suggesting why we need more copyright laws to protect all those jobs — when copyright really barely touches on any of the jobs in the list.
Instead… they focus on this bizarre Steve Jobs example.
All evidence suggests that patents continue to drive innovation in technology. At the time of his death, innovator Steve Jobs had more than 300 patents. Companies such as Apple have made transformative changes in our lives, made possible by massive investments made by intellectual property. But while such companies develop brand-new technologies and services, they also perform incremental innovation. Thus, IP conflicts arise as the byproducts of a very healthy overall innovation environment. The tech industry is characterized by extremely sharp drops in costs over time, extremely strong increases in performance, and multiple changes in market leads, with different companies leading at different points in time. That tremendously competitive marketplace is a sign of the critical role IP rights play in driving technology companies to invest, compete, create jobs, and drive exports.
Of course, as a friend pointed out, since the report covers trademarks, copyright and patents, it’s a little strange that they focused solely on patents in their “defense” of the report. After all, as the “grocery store” discussion points out, the vast, vast majority of the “jobs” counted in the report are related to trademarks. And, so far, nearly all of the policy efforts that are highlighting the report are around copyright issues.
Oh, and then there’s this:
Lets add to it another chart, one we published a year and a half ago, put together by the folks at Patently-O.
Yes, these are also correlation figures, possibly not causal. But the correlation can be useful in showing that something doesn’t add up from the story (it’s not so useful for explaining causation, but rather just for indicating that a causal relationship doesn’t appear to be present). So it seems even more bizarre and more questionable that the Commerce Department is waving around “Steve Jobs had patents” as the defense of the report — when the data from their own report doesn’t even seem to agree with their own conclusion.