Founding Choices in Innovation and Intellectual Property Protection
The American system of patent and copyright protections authorized by the Constitution, as implemented by legislation in 1790 and after, illustrated a departure from European precedents in directions that were conducive to economic growth. American patents were for “first and true” inventors and for new and original inventions, not merely ones imported from another country or copied from another inventor. Application fees for patents in the United States were lower than in Europe, and were intended to cover administrative expenses rather than enhance government revenues. Property rights were strong; those granted patents were not restricted in how they could exploit them. The system was open and transparent; with an inventor's rights protected, knowledge of new inventions was made widely available, as was knowledge that patent protection had expired. The purpose of the patent was “to promote the progress of science and useful arts” by means of granting temporary exclusive rights for novel inventions.
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