The Constitutionalist and Utilitarian Justifications for Strong U.S. Patent and Copyright Systems

The popular notion that U.S. intellectual property rights, especially patents and copyrights, are special privileges that merit less protection than more traditional property rights, both on constitutionalist grounds and on pragmatic economic policy grounds, is deeply flawed. The robust protection of patents and copyrights as property is consistent with the original understanding of the Framers of the Constitution, who viewed IP through the lens of natural rights. Also, far from being inefficient monopolistic drags on economic efficiency as some critics have suggested, the patent and copyright systems are vital to innovation, wealth creation, and economic growth. Calls to degrade IP rights are misplaced and, if heeded, would prove detrimental to the American economy. Congress and the executive branch should enhance the protection of American IP rights both in the United States and around the world.

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