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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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Ninja (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 10:33am

    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!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 11:55am

    Forget God, forget evolution, forget the big bang.

    IP is responsible for the creation of the planet, and creating and sustaining life. All you plebs would do well to remember it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Duke (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 11:58am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    wec, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 12:11pm

    It seems to me that some of these industries would hire more people if there were very little patent or copyright enforcement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 12:21pm

    This just goes to show the importance of strong IP laws.
    Without them, other countries are able to infringe on our study techniques.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Bengie, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 12:49pm


    Of people who have been poisoned and survived, 100% of all of those people took poison before getting sick.

    It is our conclusion that taking poison before being poisoned is the only way to have a chance of living after being poisoned.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 12:51pm


    What is depressing is that the politicians will believe this report, or at least use it to justify even more repressive IP laws.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 2:36pm


    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 3:04pm


    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).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 3:15pm

    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!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Duke (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 3:21pm

    Re: Re:

    I would suggest that Market Research and Public Opinion Polling doesn't rely too much on copyright (or shouldn't be able to) as they are about gathering facts, which cannot be restricted by copyright. The reports they produce might be, but the information isn't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Jay (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 6:52pm

    What the...?

    Can someone explain this to me?

    When did libraries need copyright to account for 5% of the industry?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 12:35am

    Re: Re:

    Yes, and a key point is that even if copyright didn't exist we would still have libraries.

    Libraries existed long before copyright and will still exist long after.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 7:59am

    Follow the money where did this begin and who's funding it which political puppets are being paid and by whom how much and what jobs will they hold once out of public office ..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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