Keynote Speech, Ambassador’s IPR Roundtable – “Innovation in Action”

Ambassador Max Baucus
Keynote Speech, Ambassadors IPR Roundtable 

Innovation in Action
September 14, 2015 

As prepared for delivery 

Good afternoon everyone!

It’s great to be here with Commissioner Shen and others from the State Intellectual Property Office – Director General Hu and Director General Lei to name a few.

I am pleased to see other Chinese Intellectual Property leaders here – including Chief Judge Song from the Supreme People’s Court, Mr. Cheng and Dr. Ma, and other respected experts.

I’d like to thank the Quality Brands Protection Committee, the U.S. Information Technology Office, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for their support today – Colin, Matt, Ellen, and all of the others working hard in those associations.

Setting the Scene: Patent Protection is Trust

In less than a week, I will be in Washington for President Xi’s state visit.  We are committed to making that visit a success.

Why is this so important?  Because the U.S.-China relationship is the most important bilateral relationship in the world.  Bar none.  And we have to get it right.

And one of the keys to getting it right is strengthening trust between our two countries.

Not too long ago, a high-level Chinese official asked me, “How do we develop trust?”  What a great question.

And you know – that’s actually what today’s event is all about.  Not just because we are bringing experts together from the United States and China.  But also because of the subject matter.

Patent protection is trust.  Maintaining trade secrets is trust.  Researching together requires trust.  And doing business together – this is all built on trust.

Why IP Matters: Jobs and Trade

By developing trust, we’ve come a long way over the past four decades – both as trade partners and as leaders.  When we collaborate, great things happen.

There are now more than 40 million jobs in the United States in industries that rely heavily on intellectual property.

Many of these jobs didn’t even exist 40 years ago, jobs like digital video editors, genetic analysts, and computer designers.

That’s why innovation is so important for our economy — and for China’s.

In 1972, our annual bilateral trade was less than $100 million.  And two-way investment in each other’s markets was close to zero.

Today, more than a billion dollars of goods and services flow between our two countries each day.  Annual two-way investment between our countries now exceeds $100 billion.  That’s enough to buy 160 million new X-Boxes!

We have to work together on innovation.

Innovation is a big part of our relationship.  In fact, Chinese scientists coauthor more research papers with Americans than scientists from any other country.

In the last ten years alone, Chinese patent applications in the United States for computer technology increased more than thirty-fold.

We carry around some of these important inventions every day.  I am often amazed by the power of my iPhone.  It is a telephone, a computer, a GPS, and so much more – all in one compact device.

Forty years ago, when I was a law school student, my landline telephone was my connection to friends and family.

I typed exams on a typewriter.

And I used paper maps for the drive between Montana and Palo Alto, California.

Today, my iPhone can do all of that – and more!  It can even do more than 50 times the calculations per second than a state-of-the-art supercomputer could do back in the 1970s.

You can picture that 1970s supercomputer in your mind right now — it took up an entire room.

And it’s not just phones.  In 40 years, we’ve learned how to build so much: life-saving medicines, super-fast microprocessors, cleaner power plants.

Why do we do this?  We do this to make our lives better.

And all of the innovations that help us do that are supported by patents or trade secrets.

That’s why we’re all here today — to talk about how to protect these inventions and spur innovation.

We didn’t get from a typewriter to an iPhone in one step.

We also didn’t do it alone.  Inventors from all over the world made the discoveries and worked together to build these new gadgets.  International cooperation on intellectual property protection made that possible.

America can’t innovate alone.  Neither can China.

We have to protect our innovations

Now, Ive made a point to travel throughout China and to meet as many people as possible.  I’ve met with Chinese and American CEO’s — people who know high-tech business inside and out.

And you know what they tell me?  That we need stronger IP protection.

Why else would you spend your time and money putting together a new product, if you know some other guy is just going to take it?  You wouldn’t!

You need to trust the legal system to protect your investment.

That’s one reason our two governments are working together as China considers new laws – the patent law, a potential trade secrets law, and more.

Because if your work is protected, more people are going to go out and do the same thing: they’ll create and invent new products.

But a law is useless without tough enforcement behind it.

And I’m happy to say we’ve already had some success on that front.  This June, the United States and China agreed to continue our work to jointly investigate and prosecute intellectual property crimes.

And we must continue to work together and make progress in other areas.

We need stronger legal tools to gather evidence and prevent further harm during ongoing litigation.

Victims of intellectual property theft should be able to get higher damages in court so we can better deter those who want to steal.

China took a bold step last year and created three specialized IP Courts to hear technical cases, including patent and trade secrets cases.  That’s great!

I want to see more of that.  And I suspect you do as well.


But today is also about more than just enforcing the rules.  We have to plan for the future.  We have to set the stage for the next 40 years – together.

Just as it was hard to imagine an X-Box or an iPhone when I was in law school, it is sometimes hard to imagine the innovations we’ll see next.

A cancer drug that saves a life because it’s tailored to the patient’s genetics.  A biotech crop that will feed more people.  And a tech gadget that better connects us to our loved ones on the other side of the planet.

These could be the next great innovations that make our lives better.

I always remind my Chinese friends that we are in this together. And I mean that.

Even when we have disagreements, we need to continue working together.

And this brings me back to the question I opened with – How do we develop trust?

My goal is to see the United States and China working together on any problem, no matter how large or small.

And when we talk about where we’re going and where we want to be, we need to be candid – and respectful – with one another.

This requires leadership — and trust — on both sides, including the people in this room here today – in both the public and private sectors.

This is something we can do together.  Thank you.