Misleading Figures Used To Puff Up Importance Of Intellectual Monopolies In Europe

from the lies,-damned-lies,-and-statistics dept

We’ve noted before attempts to inflate the importance of copyright, patents and trademarks by including a bunch of other sectors that are only tangentially related to them when it comes to totting up their economic impact. For example, last year Mike wrote about a joint Department of Commerce/US Patent and Trademark Office “study” that included 2.5 million grocery store jobs in its definition of “IP-intensive” industries.

Now the Europeans are getting in on the act. The European Patent Office and the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, responsible for trademarks and designs in Europe, have come out with a very similar study, which uses exactly the same technique as the earlier USPTO/Department of Commerce work, as James Love explains:

On September 30, 2013, the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) published their own knock off version [of the US study], titled “Intellectual Property Rights intensive industries: contribution to economic performance and employment in Europe”, which claimed that 39 percent of total economic activity in the EU is “generated by IPR-intensive industries.”

Like the USPTO study, the numbers are intended to mislead rather than inform debate on intellectual property. The following is a quick rundown of some of the employment numbers in the report, for various IP categories.

For “design intensive industries,” the largest employer group, by far, is “Wholesale of clothing and footwear,” which is just one of several “wholesale” categories designed as “Design intensive industries.”

For “patent intensive industries,” the list of top industries is mostly made up of various manufacturing sectors. “Research and experimental development on biotechnology” is listed as having just 47 thousand EU jobs, out of more than 22 million “patent intensive” jobs in the study.

For the copyright industry, the study claims there are over 7,049,405 jobs in the EU. But where are they? Book publishing is listed at 317,150, Sound recording and music publishing activities at 37,750, and Publishing of journals and periodicals just 13,300… Libraries and archives, on the other hand, are listed as a “copyright intensive industry” with 397.800 jobs — 5.6 percent of all copyright intensive jobs.

The following 11 industries make up more than 55% of all jobs that are considered copyright intensive, even though copyright is only an incidental factor for most of their activities:

Advertising agencies 388.500 (5.1%)
Library and archives activities 397.800 (5.6%)
Media representation 797.900 (11.3%)
Other amusement and recreation activities 220.950 (3.1%)
Other information service activities n.e.c. 994.600 (14.1%)
Performing arts support activities 266.950 (3.8%)
Performing arts 85.800 (1.2%)
Public relations and communication activities 162.800 (2.3%)
Publishing of directories and mailing lists 231.500 (3%)
Translation and interpretation activities 152.000 (2.2%)
Web portals 191.300 (2.7%)

The European Commission lost no time touting the new study:

Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier said: “I am convinced that intellectual property rights play a hugely important role in stimulating innovation and creativity, and I welcome the publication of this study which confirms that the promotion of IPR is a matter of growth and jobs. It will help us to further underpin our evidence-based policy making.

Of course, it does nothing of the sort, because the “evidence” cited here is so misleading as to be worthless. What Barnier really means is that he will continue to push the dogma that intellectual monopolies like patents and copyright are needed to stimulate innovation and creativity, and that he will ignore real evidence to the contrary, falling back instead on easily-debunked work like the present document from the EPO and OHIM.

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Comments on “Misleading Figures Used To Puff Up Importance Of Intellectual Monopolies In Europe”

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Ninja (profile) says:

By that logic IP is responsible for humanity reaching so far after they stood up and stopped being apes (don’t laugh). I mean, miners gather minerals needed so hollywood can have it’s gadgets made, oil field workers too and what about farmers? What would it be of them if Hollywood didn’t eat! Of course the much less mentioned yacht manufacturers, drug dealers and brothel owners would also be unemployed.

Let reason, logic and sanity ka-ching!

Duke (profile) says:

Reading through the report there are some interesting industries listed as IP-intensive, including:

Manufacture of kitchen furniture,
Wholesale of fruit and vegetables,
Sea and coastal passenger water transport,
Buying and selling of own real estate,
Media representation,
Market research and public opinion polling,
Rental and leasing of trucks,
Gambling and betting activities

Apparently when you are in a society where branding is everything, and you measure IP-intensity by “do they use trade marks”, almost everyone ends up being IP-intensive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The claim that still baffles me is the 397,800 “library and archive” jobs. These are the jobs that take copyrighted material and loan it out to the public for free. Using those jobs as support for intellectual property rights is like using charity soup kitchens as support for five-star restaurants.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Except for kitchen furniture where design patents are a’plenty, and market research and public opinion polling which relies on copyright, the rest are almost devoid of anything IP-intensive.

Using trademarks as a sole reason for “IP stimulating innovation” is completely arbitrary. Somehow the existance of an owned trademark doesn’t change the market for a product as such, nor does it do anything positive for innovation (if anything it is taking money away from innovation and putting it into superfluous image management).

Anonymous Coward says:

funny how the politicians manage to jump in to use these sort of ridiculous, untruthful figures but at the same time manage to ignore facts such as those in this article


like so many other reports, when the truth is published, it is immediately ignored, ridiculed or just dismissed.

Barnier is as big a tosser as who he took over from. if the truth slapped him repeatedly in the face, he would still be able to dismiss it as rubbish, just to keep his masters of the entertainment industries sweet! we might never get truthful, genuine politicians to act on those truths, but it would make a change if they acknowledged them, instead of throwing them in the rubbish pile!

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