Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Public policy has long recognized the intimate relation between a dynamic technology and a well-adjusted economy. Without experiment, industrial arts stagnate. Rightly understood, invention is synonymous with improvement in the industrial arts, and invention comes about only from experimenting. Not every inventor finds what he is looking for, true enough, or is looking for what he finds. But unless, consciously or unconsciously, he is seeking a new way to do something or a new "combination of matter" he will never discover anything.

To encourage experiment and thus foster technical improvment is the avowed purpose of the American patent system. The men who wrote the Constitution did not mention "patents" but they did authorize Congress" To promote the Progress of .. .useful Arts." The Constitution, moreover, specifies how this power, alone among the enumerated powers of Congress, shall be exercised. It limits congressional discretion in choice of means for accomplishing this end to ". ..securing for limited Times to . ..Inventors the exclusive Right to their . . .Discoveries."