CONSTITUTIONAL civil liberties FOUNDATIONBill of civil liberties in ActionWINTER 2008 (Volume 23, No. 4)

Intellectual Property

When the American revolution ended, the states challenged an economic depression. War debts had actually mounted, and also some states might not salary what lock owed. 7 of the 13 states had actually issued their own document money, i beg your pardon had tiny value. Merchants and wealthy planters that were fan money were becoming angry. The brand-new government the the United says was based on the short articles of Confederation, adopted during the Revolutionary War. The short articles gave great power come the individual states and little to the central government. V no power to act, the central government failure to resolve the war debt and also other advertisement problems. When the constitution Convention convened in 1787, its members recognized that a brand-new constitution would must encourage commerce and to provide the basis for a steady economy.

The framers probably could not have actually predicted how essential patents and literary products would become to the nationwide economy. However even in 1787, castle knew the basic reasons because that protecting intellectual property: culture benefits indigenous the products of original and an imaginative thought. Protecting these products gives their producers an catalyst to create much more and for this reason stimulates greater activity.

The European endure

Patents because that Novel Inventions. Fillipo Brunelleschi is best known together the architect of the great dome of the cathedral in Florence. He likewise invented a novel sort of boat that he thought would enable merchants to bring goods right into Florence for much less money. In 1421, the Republic the Florence pass a law giving Brunelleschi what is believed to it is in the very first true patent of an invention. A preamble come the law proclaimed that Brunelleschi had refused to make his invention accessible to the public, however he would perform so if he would certainly receive defense from others who might copy his invention. The preamble continued, advertising it was preferable that his hidden invention "be bought come light, to be of benefit both to Fillipo and to our totality country." The law provided Brunelleschi the exclusive best to run his new technique of water transport for 3 years. The result of providing this privilege, the preamble stated, would certainly "animate Fillipo to even higher pursuits" and also stimulate him to more "subtle investigations."

As that turned out, the invention failed. The boat sank in the Arno river. But other parts of Italy well-known the need to worry grants come stimulate new technology. In the center of the 15th century, Venice began awarding grants and privileges to human being who introduced new techniques. In 1460, a "patent of invention" (a grant to the inventor) was awarded because that a "water-raising mechanism." The award required a "successful test" before the patent came to be official. It enforced a well of 1,000 gold ducats ~ above anyone that imitated the creation without a license. By 1474, Venice had actually passed a patent state that included many that the elements of today"s patent laws:

1. It forced that the machine be original.

2. The mandated it it is in tested for utility.

3. It enforced a conventional penalty because that infringement.

During the next 300 years, many European countries adopted the model emerged in Venice and also granted patents because that novel inventions.

The Colonies and also the claims

Patents because that Novel Inventions. No legislations in the early early american years noted for issuing patents. However individuals who declared to have a novel maker or product could apply to the early american government to ask because that the "exclusive right" to make and also sell the product. And many such requests were granted. In 1641, the basic Court in Massachusetts found that Samuel Winslow had actually a process "to do by a meanes and method weh hitherto hath no been discovred" and also at "more easy prices that otherwise can bee had." It gave Winslow the exclusive ideal to use that procedure for 10 years. Similar grants were made by the general Court in Massachusetts (e.g., for making candles from whale oil) and also in the other northern colonies.

South Carolina was the most energetic of the Southern colonies in hearing and granting petitions for patent rights. As beforehand as 1691, southern Carolina vested a patent come Peter Guerard because that a rice husking machine (rice was the basis for the neighborhood economy). Like various other patent grants in the colonial period, it was just a private grant to one inventor. Yet with much more and an ext requests for patents comes to the legislature, numerous saw a require for a regulation that would certainly standardize provisions and include an check procedure. In 1794, south Carolina to be the first state to pass such a law. Title "An Act for the encouragement of Arts and also Science," the regulation primarily addressed protecting literary property. But it additionally contained the adhering to provision: "The Inventors of advantageous machines shall have actually a like exclusive privilege of do or vending their makers for the like term that 14 years, under the exact same privileges and also restrictions hereby granted to, and also imposed on, the writer of books."

Patent grants continued to increase throughout the 1780s in plenty of states. Progressively the terms of the state grants became an ext similar, with most using a 14-year term. Yet without a nationwide system, inventors regularly needed to seek grants in many states, which was facility and expensive. The require for a wider patent security was clear. As one observer provided on the night of the constitutional Convention, "a patent deserve to be the no usage unless it is indigenous Congress, and also not from them till they room vested v much much more authority 보다 they own at this time."

The constitution Convention convened in may 1787 come amend the articles of Confederation and create a new, and also stronger, nationwide government. 4 months later, on September 17, 1787, the new U.S. Constitution was signed. Write-up I, ar 8, provided the strength granted come Congress. It included the strength to protect both literary and also inventive property:

Congress shall have Power . . . To encourage the progression of Science and useful Arts, through securing for restricted Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive ideal to their corresponding Writings and Discoveries. . . .

The last i of post I, section 8, particularly granted congress the strength "to make all legislations which shall be necessary and also proper for carrying right into Execution the Foregoing powers . . . ."

For Discussion and Writing

1. Exactly how would you define "intellectual property"?

Some necessary Historical U.S. Patents


Cotton Gin


Revolver Pistol

Electric engine

Vulcanized Rubber


Steel Making process




Barbed cable


Internal burning Engine

Incandescent light

Motion snapshot


Air conditioning



Frozen Food



Insecticide DDT


Digital computer


Atomic Reactor

Patent #




























Year Granted





























Eli Whitney

Cyrus H. McCormick

Samuel Colt

Thomas Davenport

Charles Goodyear

Chas. Jackson & Wm. Morton

William Kelly

Alfred Nobel

Sholes, Glidden, & Soule

Louis Pasteur

Joseph F. Glidden

Alexander Graham Bell

Nicolaus August rose oil

Thomas Alva Edison

Thomas Alva Edison

Guglielmo Marconi

Willis H. Carrier

Orville & Wilbur bright

Robert H. Goddard

Clarence Birdseye

Philo T. Farnsworth

Chester F. Carlson

Paul Muller

John Bardeen & Walter Bratain

George R. Stibitz

Lloyd H. Conover

Enrico Fermi & Leo Szilard

Source: significant Historical Patents of the joined States, URL:

A C T ns V ns T Y

Patent applications

The U.S. Patent Office has issued countless patents over the years. On web page xxxx, "Some important Historical U.S. Patents" lists a couple of of the most far-ranging ones.

Form tiny groups. Each team should execute the following:

1. Testimonial "Some historical U.S. Patents" above.

2. Discuss and also decide top top the five inventions that had the most impact on American society.

3. Discuss and answer this questions:

a. How did each of the five specifically affect American society?


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Do you think patent security aided the advancement of every of these inventions? Why or why not?

c. What execute you think would have actually happened to these inventions if patent protection had not existed? Why?