Sayings > Government > Patents

2000: Patents began in a world of machines and chemical processes -- a substantial, tangible, nuts-and-bolts world -- but now they have spread across a crucial boundary, into the realm of thought and abstraction.
-- James Gleick, Patently Absurd, The New York Times, March 12, 2000

1939: There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or a corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back, for their private benefit. That is all.
-- Robert A. Heinlein, Life-Line

1899: Everything that can be invented has been invented.
-- Charles Duell, Director of U.S. Patent Office

1882: It was never the object of patent laws to grant a monopoly for every trifling device, every shadow of a shade of an idea, which would naturally and spontaneously occur to any skilled mechanic or operator in the ordinary progress of manufactures. Such an indiscriminate creation of exclusive privileges tends rather to obstruct than to stimulate invention. It creates a class of speculative schemers who make it their business to watch the advancing wave of improvement, and gather its foam in the form of patented monopolies, which enable them to lay a heavy tax on the industry of the country, without contributing anything to the real advancement of the arts. It embarrasses the honest pursuit of business with fears and apprehensions of unknown liability lawsuits and vexatious accounting for profits made in good faith.
-- U.S. Supreme Court, Atlantic Works v. Brady, 1017 U.S. 192, 200

1813: He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me... Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.
-- Thomas Jefferson, excerpt from No Patents on Ideas letter to Isaac McPherson

... That, as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.
-- Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography (web version)

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