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    Thursday, July 3, 2008

    Happy Fourth of July!

    To celebrate the Fourth of July, I'll give you a quick primer on the Constitutional bases for Federal intellectual property protection.

    Patents and Copyrights derive directly from the United States Constitution. Our Founders wrote into the Constitution the Patents and Copyrights Clause which reads:

    • "The Congress shall have Power ... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;"

    From that sprang the Patent Act and the Copyright Act, and all laws related to them.

    Trademarks, however, were overlooked by our Founders, and are protected by the Constitution only indirectly, through the Commerce Clause, which reads:

    • "The Congress shall have Power ... To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;"

    From that authority, Congress ultimately created the Federal Lanham Act governing Federal trademark rights.

    Happy Fourth!

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