IP Makes America Great
The need for strong protection of intellectual property rights is greater now than ever before.
A nation becomes great because of great people. Often the people that make the greatest impact on progress are not national leaders, but brilliant men and women of ideas. A handful of individuals developed inventions in the first half of the 19th century that not only had a direct impact on everyone’s lives, but also affected the destiny of the American nation.”1
The main purpose of the U.S. Constitution was to establish the basic rights of all American citizens and provide direction on how the government should work. During the colonial era, intellectual property (IP) in America was actually owned by Great Britain. The framers of the Constitution included economists and inventors who understood the importance of our country being economically strong and how inventions can contribute to a strong economy.
Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution begins: “The Congress shall have the power…To promote the progress of science…” This power was manifested in a unique way so as to inspire innovation rather than merely reward inventors for their inventions. To this end, the Constitution promoted inventions that were new, useful embodiments of scientific advancements. Decades after the Constitution was drafted, Abraham Lincoln commented on the constitutional provision for inventions, stating that it “added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius, in the discovery and production of new and useful things.”
The framers of the Constitution knew that in all societies, including developing countries, where intellectual property is not protected, ingenuity is stifled and progress stymied. Unless inventors are incentivized and rewarded properly, they tend to keep their discoveries in secret. If this were to happen, society as a whole would be starved of knowledge, scientific advancement would become stunted for lack of useful information, and the purpose of the patent system to incentivize innovation would be lost.
IP is the lifeblood of today’s knowledge-based economy. The newly elected administration has taken over the reins of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and commentators have already begun trying to predict what changes might be in store. Andrew Baluch and Devlin Hartline, for example, have analyzed the “Intellectual Property Backgrounds of President Trump’s Potential Supreme Court Nominees.”2
As it turns out, President Trump has a well-known history of developing the “Trump” brand, with one source reporting that 170 trademarks have been filed by President Trump.3 He has also made a considerable amount of money licensing the Trump name on everything from hotels to neckties. In addition to applying for and receiving trademark registrations, President Trump has frequently taken legal action to protect and enforce his trademarks.
Melania, Ivanka and Ivana Trump also have numerous trademark filings in their business endeavors. President Trump’s uncle, John G. Trump, was a well-regarded inventor, scientist, and entrepreneur who served his country during World War II, inventing new radar technologies and later methods for curing cancer. John G. Trump was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Reagan.
President Trump is a businessman who has personally capitalized on the value of trademarks. That hopefully bodes well for his view of the importance of IP in general, including patents, copyrights and trade secrets. Since being elected, President Trump has been outspoken about concerns for protecting American IP rights abroad. In his inauguration speech, he stated: “We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow… Together, we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again.”
It is hard not to think that the framers of Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution had a similar hope, vision and goal when our present-day IP system started. The need for strong protection of IP rights is greater now than ever before. The U.S. economy has always benefited when it is at the forefront of innovation and achieves prosperity from its leadership role in technological advancements.
Any views or opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not represent those of Ceramic Industry, its staff, Editorial Advisory Board or BNP Media.
1. “The Rise of American History,” U.S. History, www.ushistory.org/us/25c.asp.
2. Baluch, Andrew; and Hartline, Devlin, “Intellectual Property Backgrounds of President Trump’s Potential Supreme Court Nominees,” Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property, January 23, 2017, http://cpip.gmu.edu/2017/01/23/intellectual-property-summary-of-donald-trumps-judicial-nominees.
3. “The Complete List of All 170 Trademarks Filed by Donald Trump,” Lawinspiring, October 27, 2016, http://lawinspiring.com/2016/10/27/trumps-trademarks.