Essentials of Intellectual Property: Law, Economics, and Strategy

By Alexander I. Poltorak; Paul J. Lerner | Go to book overview

Foreword to the
Second Edition

The three most important developments in world history, according to Abraham Lincoln, were the perfection of printing, the discovery of America, and the introduction of patent laws. Printing allowed the widespread communication of ideas across time and space. The discovery of America unveiled a vast continent of resources and had produced a unique form of government where, for the first time in world history, people governed themselves. “The patent system,” Lincoln said, “added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.”

Lincoln’s appreciation of patent laws reflected that of George Washington and the other founding fathers of the United States. The framers of the Constitution, of which Washington was the most prominent, put into that document a simple 32-word provision that has been the foundation of U.S. progress for more than two centuries:

The Congress shall have power to promote the progress of science and
useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the
exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.

This is the only place in the body of the Constitution where the word right exists. The rights to engage in free speech, own a gun, petition the government, and not incriminate yourself, among others, were enacted later as constitutional amendments.

-vii-

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