Trump can finally make American patents great again
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As President Trump moves to implement his “make America great again” agenda, one rather esoteric subject cries out for attention – reversing the Obama administration’s antipathy toward patent and property rights.

Patent rights – a subsidiary of the property right – ensure that inventors, entrepreneurs, and even corporations have an incentive to engage in research and development, to invest the time and money necessary to invent new things which, hopefully, will better life for all of us.

Our Founders understood the patent right to be one of the keys to ensuring the security of liberty – that’s why Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution itself gives Congress the power to award patents: “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 …”

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Or, as James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution,” put it in his December, 1829 “Address at the Virginia Convention,” “It is sufficiently obvious, that persons and property are the two great subjects on which Governments are to act; and that the rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted. These rights cannot well be separated. The personal right to acquire property, which is a natural right, gives to property, when acquired, a right to protection, as a social right.”

 

Note the significance – “ … the rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted.” Government itself, in Madison’s view, was instituted for the protection of personal and property rights. 

You wouldn’t know that by looking at how the Obama administration devalued property and patent rights during its eight years in power. In fact, you would be excused for thinking exactly the opposite.

The result is not surprising. According to the Global Intellectual Property Center of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – which recently issued its fifth annual Global IP Index – the United States has dropped in the world rankings of nations that protect intellectual property to 10th overall on the issue of patents, tied with … Hungary.

What happens when the protections and incentives you have long afforded inventors begin to weaken? Predictably, you get fewer inventions. According to recent data from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Chinese patent applications jumped 45 percent in 2016, while U.S. patent applications actually declined by one percent.

The United States is losing its edge as the leader in innovation across the globe. As our government officials have taken actions across the board to devalue patents and innovation, it’s not just manufacturing jobs that have been lost to other nations, but our technological advantage.

Why would the Obama administration deliberately devalue the worth of patents and innovation? To please its corporate patrons in Silicon Valley, which, in many cases, don’t invent things themselves, but find innovative ways of using things invented by others. These tech behemoths support policies that lower the value of patents, so they can lower the value (and, therefore, the price) of the patents they license or buy. 

President Trump’s victory offers the opportunity to reverse course, and once again provide inventors and entrepreneurs the proper incentives to create and invent. With his power of appointment, he has the power to make American inventions great again.

Jenny Beth Martin (@JennyBethM) is co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.