PATENTS: Harmless But Useful

On Thomas Jefferson's birthday last week, hearings opened on the subject of one of Inventor Jefferson's favorite Constitutional guarantees: Article I, Section 8, which-"to promote the progress of science and useful arts" −calls for "securing for limited times to authors and inventors exclusive rights to their respective writings and discoveries."

From this benevolent clause has grown the U.S. patent system −often described at home and abroad as the most liberal, invention-inviting system in the world. Yet the Senators who packed the smoke-filled Patents Committee room last week were told that that...

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