Ronald Regan proposed National Inventors Day at February 11 in 1983. February 11 was chosen because it is Thomas Alva Edison’s birthday. Reagan’s proclamation was
Almost two hundred years ago, President George Washington recognized that invention and innovation were fundamental to the welfare and strength of the United States. He successfully urged the First Congress to enact a patent statute as expressly authorized by the U.S. Constitution and wisely advised that “there is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science . . .” In 1790, the first patent statute initiated the transformation of the United States from an importer of technology to a world leader in technological innovation.
Today, just as in George Washington’s day, inventors are the keystone of the technological progress that is so vital to the economic, environmental, and social well-being of this country. Individual ingenuity and perseverance, spurred by the incentives of the patent system, begin the process that results in improved standards of living, increased public and private productivity, creation of new industries, improved public services, and enhanced competitiveness of American products in world markets.
In recognition of the enormous contribution inventors make to the nation and the world, the Congress, pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution 140 (Public Law 97 – 198), has designated February 11, 1983, the anniversary of the birth of Thomas Alva Edison, one of America’s most famous and prolific inventors, as National Inventors’ Day. Such recognition is especially appropriate at a time when our country is striving to maintain its global position as a leader in innovation and technology. Key to our future success will be the dedication and creativity of inventors.
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim February 11, 1983, as National Inventors’ Day and call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this 12th day of Jan., in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and seventh.
While Reagan’s economic plan is generally thought of as just reducing taxes, he was a strong supporter of policies that encourage invention. He strengthened the patent system by creating the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. All patent appeals were consolidated into the (CAFC) created in 1982. A number of the initial Judges on the CAFC were former patent attorneys and the court brought consistency to patent appeals. The court also took seriously the idea that issued patents are presumed to be valid. These changes signaled a more favorable atmosphere for patents in the 1980’s. Before the CAFC patents were treated differently in each of the federal court circuits. Some circuits had not upheld the validity of a patent in decades. The new court brought a sense of stability to patent law. The 1980’s saw a restoration of America’s economic and technological dominance in the world.
As Reagan’s quote above shows, he understood the connection between a strong patent system and a strong economy and more generally a strong U.S. Today 96% of Americans believe innovation is critical to the success of the US as a world economic leader. Zogby Poll, January 2010. If America wants to be great again, then we have to protect the rights of our inventors.
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