George Bush photo

Proclamation 6013—The Bicentennial Anniversary of the First U.S. Patent and Copyright Laws, 1990

August 15, 1989

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Our Nation's Founding Fathers recognized not only the need to protect the rights and property of individual Americans, but also the importance of providing incentives to stimulate the economic and cultural growth of the United States. Thus, in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, they gave the Congress the 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." Under this provision, the Federal Government can encourage the work of authors and inventors by protecting their right to reap the fruits of their labor.

In his first Annual Message to the Congress, President George Washington reminded its members of the importance of progress in science and the arts, proclaiming that "there is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science and literature." Less than 6 months later, the Congress passed two landmark laws: the first Patent Act, which President Washington signed on April 10, 1790, and the first Copyright Act, which he signed on May 31, 1790. These two Acts have played an important role in establishing the United States as an economic and cultural leader among nations.

During the past 200 years, our Nation's patent and copyright laws have, as Abraham Lincoln once observed, "added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius." American inventors have left their mark on industry and everyday life, and the world's history books include their names alongside those of other great pioneers. Our standard of living, which is in part the result of American technology and innovation, has long been the highest in the world.

Advances in technology have also produced new forms of authorship, and we have expanded our copyright laws accordingly. Copyright protection now covers such works as photographs, phonograms, motion pictures, and computer programs. These changes have enabled fledging enterprises to become enduring industries. The success of new industries has, in turn, given aspiring authors, inventors, and artists greater faith in their dreams and further incentive to share the fruits of their talents with others.

As our patent and copyright laws enter their 3rd century, it is fitting that we recognize the role they have played in the scientific, economic, and cultural development of our Nation. On this occasion, it is also fitting that we encourage America's young people to follow in the footsteps of the many inventors and artists who have enriched our lives with their vision and creativity.

In recognition of the importance of the patent and copyright laws to the United States, the Congress, by Public Law 99-523, has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation commemorating the bicentennial anniversary of the first patent and copyright laws.

Now, Therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby call upon the people of the United States to foster recognition of the importance of our patent and copyright systems through appropriate educational and cultural programs and activities during 1990, the bicentennial year of our Nation's first patent and copyright laws.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of August, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fourteenth.

Signature of George Bush


George Bush, Proclamation 6013—The Bicentennial Anniversary of the First U.S. Patent and Copyright Laws, 1990 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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