Celebrating America’s Innovators-in-chief

We learned about Woodrow Wilson and his Ford Model T, purchased in celebration of the revolutionary assembly line method of production. We watched alongside President Richard Nixon as two American astronauts walked on the moon. Under President Bill Clinton, we began to explore the World Wide Web. Soon after, we got electronic mail from President George W. Bush at nearly half the speed of light.

American presidents have a long history as the impetus behind life-changing innovation. Namely, because it’s part of the job.

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8  of the Constitution lays out 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.”

It’s the job of the president to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, so it’s the job of the president to uphold the intellectual property rights enshrined there.

Today, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution translates into a robust intellectual property system of patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. ‘

These 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, IP rights offer an unyielding confidence that innovators’ investments are indeed valuable.

Innovators rejoice at efforts to bolster these protections, from the Patent Act of 1790 signed by President George Washington to the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 signed by President Barack Obama. Presidents must continue to invest in policies that strengthen the American intellectual property infrastructure.

For many American presidents, intellectual property becomes even more personal.

President Abraham Lincoln was himself granted a patent on May 22, 1849, for an invention that would help release boats when they ran aground. President Ronald Reagan enjoyed a prolific career as an actor before he assumed the presidency, and his films and movies relied on strong copyright protections and enforcement against copyright infringers. President “Teddy” Roosevelt was also quite familiar with the copyright system; he wrote over 30 books during his lifetime.

This Presidents’ Day, as we remember the great work of our American presidents, let’s also remember the amazing innovation they’ve inspired.

And let’s look forward to the amazing innovation still to come under the helm of our future Innovators-in-chief.

Happy Presidents’ Day!

Courtney Paul is the associate manager of communications for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center.

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