Facebook’s historic initial public offering (“IPO”) on Friday was preceded by a patent portfolio “shopping spree” illustrative of the importance of intellectual property’s role in the U.S. economy. According to news reports in the months leading up to its IPO, it appears that Facebook acquired well over 1,000 patents and patent applications outright, as well as licenses to many more patents, including large groups of such patents formerly owned by IBM [article] and AOL [article], among others. Regardless of the strategy implications as to whether the acquisitions were primarily for defensive purposes, offensive purposes, or a relatively equal balance of each, the sheer magnitude of Facebook’s patent purchasing activity was exemplary of the dominant impact that intellectual property-intensive industries are having on the U.S. economy.
According to a U.S. PTO study and report, the entire U.S. economy relies on some form of intellectual property (“IP”) because virtually every industry either produces it or uses it. According to the report, IP-intensive industries accounted for about $5 trillion in value added, or nearly 35% of U.S. gross domestic product (“GDP”) in 2010.
The job market was equally impacted. IP-intensive industries directly accounted for 27.1 million American jobs, and IP-intensive industries indirectly supported another 12.9 million more jobs throughout the economy, totaling 40.0 million jobs, or 27.7% of all jobs in 2010.
For a USPTO summary and additional statistics on the impact of IP-intensive industries, click here.
For a related USPTO press release, click here.
For the full report co-authored by the USPTO and the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA), click here.