EPO and OHIM publish misleading report on intellectual property rights intensive industries in EU economy

In 2012 the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a study titled “Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus” which estimated the number of jobs if various “IP intensive” industries. The study was immediately panned by critics for its broad definitions — grocery stores were the top “ip intensive industry” in the United States, but it became a source of go-to-statistics for every PhRMA and publisher lobby group pushing new privileges and subsidies. (Commentary here: https://www.keionline.org/21865)

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, titled “Intellectual Property Rights intensive industries: contribution to economic performance and employment in Europe” (copy here), 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 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, the three making up roughly 5 percent of the total estimated jobs. 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 industry called “Motion picture, video and television programme production activities” is estimated to have 224,350 jobs, plus several related categories for distributing content, plus a number of jobs in the field of broadcasting television and radio. But the numbers are swelled by entries that most people would not necessarily think of as “copyright intensive.” For example, the following 11 “copyright industries make up more than 55 percent of all jobs deemed copyright intensive:

  • 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%)

Like the USPTO study, the trademark intensive industry category is by far the largest, with claims of 45.508.046 jobs. It involves many of the same industries already counted in other categories such as patents, copyrights or designs. It is hard to know what all is included here, since the “most trademark intensive industries” in Table 11 (Page 52) only make up 2.8 percent of the 45.5 million in the category. It might ask for more details on this sector, since my guess is that it includes a number of “industries” that are not so impressive once named.

This is the statement by EU official Michel Barnier in a press release about the release of the 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. What this study shows us is that the use of intellectual property rights in the economy is ubiquitous: from high-tech industries to manufacturers of sports goods, toys and computer games, all are making intensive use of not just one, but often several types of intellectual property rights.”