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Roby: Creating and protecting new ideas

Throughout the years, advancements in technology have altered and changed the world we live in.

Talented and bright minds are constantly pitching new ideas in industries all across the board, but it is the ability to protect these intangible creations that gives them their value. As technology has changed over time, so have the policies that protect these notable developments. With technological progression comes a more complex legal environment for businesses and organizations. It’s critical that strong protections are in place to safeguard the innovative ideas of the American people, ultimately stimulating innovation, fueling economic growth, and building stronger communities.

I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, where I am in a unique position to advocate for the core copyright industries and related workforce that contribute so much to our economy and culture, both in Alabama and across the country. I believe our government must work to ensure our Intellectual Property (IP) laws are up-to-date and that they address the needs of today’s digital world. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC) recently released the 2020 International IP Index, evaluating the IP framework between 53 global economies, ranking the United States in first place. Although the U.S. received the highest rating, Congress still has a lot of work to do.

More than 45 million American jobs rely on IP-dependent industries. Alabama has a large IP footprint, as there are currently 910,062 IP-related jobs in the state. Last year alone, there were 5,393 innovations registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alabama. Unfortunately, these hardworking, creative professionals don’t always receive the recognition and compensation they deserve due to several factors that we’re working to tackle in the House Judiciary Committee. With the strong IP presence we have in the American workforce, it’s important to understand the need for considerable protections.

Many colleges and universities in Alabama have established learning environments that give guidance to students who construct innovative works as part of their education. The University of Alabama is home to the Office for Innovation and Commercialization, and Auburn University houses the Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization. These offices, along with others across the state, provide knowledge and expertise to students who are seeking licensing agreements with commercial entities. Another way to expand this knowledge is by engaging with professionals. In Huntsville, the USPTO is hosting a roundtable event later this month to engage in a discussion on the emerging issues surrounding IP enforcement.

As creative minds are hard at work across our country, my hope is that members of Congress, including myself, are working to craft meaningful policy that will protect these innovative ideas. With the recent celebration of National Innovation Day, I’d like to encourage young people to exercise their creativity and ingenuity. While our youth are the future of the creative industry, it’s imperative that we motivate people of all ages to innovate and create. I will remain engaged with this issue in my role on the House Judiciary Committee to ensure we are advocating for the proper IP protections necessary to preserve the unique creations of the American people.

Representative Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

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