Sep 16, 2016 - 11:00am

Did You Know Intellectual Property is Protected Under the Constitution?


Former Associate Manager, Communications, Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC)

New opportunities for entrepreneurship crop up every day. New ideas, art, and technology dominate a thriving innovation economy. But in an age of constant innovation evolution, one thing stands firmly at the center: intellectual property rights. Intellectual property rights have served as the catalyst for innovation since the very day our country was founded.

Don’t believe it? Just ask the founding fathers.

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the 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.”     

Intellectual property rights are fundamental rights.

We recognize the founding fathers’ insistence to protect the work of innovators through a robust intellectual property system of patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.

American scientists and researchers produce lifesaving medicines. American artists write enduring thought-provoking lyrics. American brands capture their essence through colorful logos and slogans. American companies create entire empires on a single special secret ingredient. All rely on intellectual property protections.

It’s true that intellectual property protections reward these innovators for the fruits of their labor by securing a fair profit, but the assumption isn’t entirely correct. Intellectual property protections are better described as the roots that allow the fruits of innovators’ labor to grow and ripen.  

Intellectual property protections encourage innovators to embark on the difficult path to innovation by supplying tangible support along the way. When the hours get long and the costs get high, intellectual property rights offer an unyielding confidence that innovators’ investments are indeed valuable.

The patent system added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.
Abraham Lincoln

Our founding fathers wrote the IP clause in the Constitution to send a clear message: innovation is welcome here. In fact, it’s encouraged.

They understood that in order to achieve unparalleled innovation, our country would have to instill unparalleled intellectual property rights.

And unparalleled innovation we have achieved: from putting a man on the moon, to pioneering the cellphone and the Internet; from curing deadly diseases, to powering the rise of rock and roll, the United States has created an innovation legacy that no other nation can yet boast.

It’s no coincidence, the American tradition of protecting intellectual property rights has created and nurtured the American tradition of innovation.

Today, as we celebrate Constitution Day, let’s also celebrate intellectual property protections and the countless innovations they have delivered.  

Abraham Lincoln said, “The patent system added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.”

All intellectual property protections give fuel to the American fire of genius. May that fire – and the fuel that feeds it – never burn out. 

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About the Author

About the Author

Former Associate Manager, Communications, Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC)

Courtney Paul is the former Associate Manager, Communications of the Global Intellectual Property Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.