Expropriating Manufacturing Innovation

There are efforts underway to require manufacturers to turn over highly sensitive operational information, such as their pricing on specific products, marketing costs, research investments and product development funding streams. From the view of a manufacturer, publicly releasing this kind of information is contrary to commonly understood business practice, surrenders federal protections, leaves markets and their company open to manipulation and, in many cases, puts the manufacturer in direct violation of contractual obligations.

Manufacturing in the United States and globally is intensely competitive, and information about what kinds of research a company is engaged in and how much it is spending on various projects is fiercely protected, because the information can be used by a competitor to gain an advantage for a certain product or market segment it shares. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) has an unyielding view on the protection of intellectual property and proprietary information precisely because manufacturers understand one crucial thing: If you aren’t innovating, you aren’t competitive. By stripping manufacturers’ ability to protect their lifeblood, misguided policymakers presume to know what’s best for America’s manufacturers and consumers. Not only is this type of policy sapping the competitiveness of manufacturers, the proposals also seek to levy fines against them if they do not meet some level of spending on research and development set by government edict.

As a matter of public policy, requiring manufacturers to hand over what amounts to their identity to government regulators who will then publish it in various forms is never something the NAM would or could support. It doesn’t matter whether it’s flyswatters or flywheels, the public understands the necessity for businesses generally, and manufacturers particularly, to keep their information secure. Why then would manufacturers stand by and watch while one segment of manufacturers is singled out for these type of intrusive, uncompetitive and authoritarian measures when they could just as easily be applied to their own businesses? They won’t stay silent on these issues, and that’s why the NAM opposes efforts that would force manufacturers of medicines to submit to what no manufacturer should have to—a government expropriation of their innovation.

Leave a Reply