Intellectual Property and Trade Secrets Must Be Protected at Home and Abroad

Today, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons continued the 2016 State of Manufacturing Tour with stops in Philadelphia, Pa.

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons addresses business and community leaders at Glaxo KlineSmith while in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo Credit: David Bohrer, NAM

NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons addresses business and community leaders at GlaxoSmithKline while in Philadelphia, Pa. Photo Credit: David Bohrer, NAM


Manufacturing plays a critical role in Pennsylvania, employing more than 569,000 workers and contributing nearly $80 billion to the state’s economy. Pennsylvania’s economy, like many manufacturing-intensive states, also relies heavily on foreign markets, exporting more than $36 billion in manufactured goods in 2014. Speaking at GlaxoSmithKline, Timmons shared his vision for how manufacturing in America can reach its full potential and highlighted how government policies can help or hinder those efforts.

A common thread that binds manufacturers across industries is the ability to innovate and create the products that consumers around the world demand. America’s biopharmaceutical industry is a prime example of innovation at work. In addition to working toward cures for deadly and debilitating diseases, our biopharmaceutical sector is also a significant driver of our economy. In Pennsylvania alone, the industry generated $25.5 billion in direct output in 2011, while employing more than 44,000 workers.

For all innovative industries, intellectual property (IP) is a lifeblood that must be protected by sound policies that are designed to ensure innovation can continue to thrive in the United States. IP protections reward innovators and risk-takers and incentivize the development of new and revolutionary products upon which our economy is built.

Yet, there are some in Congress, in state legislatures and foreign countries who are advocating policies that would severely curtail investment in our most innovative industries. Some of these proposals would single out the biopharmaceutical industry and force disclosure of highly sensitive and proprietary operational information on R&D costs and investments, pricing strategies and other details relating to new products. Proposed under the guise of transparency, these policies, if enacted, would have serious consequences. If you aren’t innovative, you aren’t competitive, and this kind of forced disclosure, however well-intentioned, would sap our IP-dependent industries of critical funding streams that make new product development possible. It’s tantamount to government expropriation of IP, and it’s something to which no company in America should ever be subject. Make no mistake, singling out one industry for this kind of politically motivated intervention is a threat to all manufacturers and the market-driven U.S. economy that has fostered U.S. manufacturing output to its highest level ever in 2014.

In addition to protecting IP here at home, we must better address the rising and substantial threats to U.S. innovators overseas. The United States must use every tool at its disposal to ensure that other countries respect and enforce strong IP standards that will not only promote U.S. innovation, but also help grow their economies as well. Strong IP chapters in U.S. free trade agreements is a top manufacturing priority as is full enforcement of global agreements that lay out basic IP protections that manufacturers in the United States can compete on a level playing field as we work to open new markets.

To ensure manufacturers in Pennsylvania and all across America can remain competitive in an increasingly global marketplace, the NAM staunchly opposes any erosion of basic IP rights or forced disclosure of trade secrets for any industry. For manufacturers to continue to lead an innovation revolution that benefits our people, our economy and the world, our government must adopt policies that enhance, not thwart, our ability to do so.


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