Another important word, “Secure” (“to make fast, save, protect, ensure,” Webster, 1806) is only in the Constitution twice.
First, expressing the need to, “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” Second, the pointed direction that Congress is accountable for “securing for limited times the exclusive right to authors and inventors.”
Congress seemed to understand their responsibility to secure exclusive rights to inventors back in 1904 when the bicycle shop tinkerers Wilbur and Orville Wright received their first patent.
Argue all you want about the Wright brothers patents and their effect on the “heavier than air” aviation industry. Just remember that that industry didn’t effectively exist before their painstaking efforts that led to the groundbreaking discoveries of these two brothers. Wilbur Wright aptly pointed out, “Those who tried to study the science of aerodynamics knew not what to believe and what not to believe.”
Fast-forward to 2011 when Congress passed the America Invents Act (AIA). The name of the Act harkens back to George Washington’s admonition to motivate exertions of skill and genius at home. Unfortunately, the Act did exactly the opposite.
The AIA created the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). Just two years after its implementation the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals observed the devastating impact this Act had on patents, describing it as “death squads killing property rights.”
This new process of invalidating patents, lobbied heavily for by the established technology companies, has been killing off patents at an extraordinary rate – with the PTAB revoking 84% of the 3,000+ patents they have reviewed.
Instead of following their Constitutional mandate to secure exclusive rights to inventors, our elected officials were securing the ability for established multi-national companies to crush independent innovation; innovation which occurred outside the well-funded research and development departments of the conglomerates.
It’s a far cry from the year 1921 when a 14-year-old farm boy thought up the idea of “electronic television” while plowing the horizontal lines out in a field. This boy, Philo Farnsworth, conceptualized the idea that an electronic image could be built up line by line. His young-adult life was spent painstakingly proving out that theory in the Green Street labs in San Francisco.
When it came time to protect Philo from the massive companies of the time (manufacturers of radios who had been out-innovated by Philo) the courts and the law protected Philo through the rights granted by his patents.