Remarks delivered at World IP Day event on Capitol Hill
Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Andrei Iancu
April 26, 2018
As prepared for delivery
Welcome, everyone, and thank you for being here. Special thanks to everyone for taking the time out of your busy schedules to be a part of this event.
I cannot think of a more fitting venue for a celebration of intellectual property than right here, in the halls of Congress. For it was our first Congress, under the leadership of James Madison, that laid the lasting foundations of our modern IP system with the Patent Act of 1790. Indeed, our founders believed IP to be so important that this Patent Act was one of the very first acts introduced in the very first Congress.
Our patent laws, then and now, are based on powers granted in the Constitution.
With respect to the Constitution IP Clause, Madison expressly said, in Federalist No. 43, “the utility of this power will scarcely be questioned.”
Through our history, now two and a quarter centuries later, our patent system has clearly been the driver of innovation and economic growth.
At the agency I have the privilege to lead—the United States Patent and Trademark Office—every day is IP Day, an opportunity to celebrate the creativity and innovation of people from all walks of life.
Though the doors of the PTO walks our future. Through our doors walk inventors and entrepreneurs brimming with optimism, and ready to change the world.
And change the world they do.
People like today’s guest speakers, Dr. Cherry Murray, known for her contributions to “lab on a chip” devices; Dr. Irina Buhimschi, inventor of a quick diagnostic test for preeclampsia; and Danya Sherman, who invented a napkin that can detect drugs in one’s drink. Thank you all for your lasting contributions to the world through innovation.
And thank you for inspiring the world through your teaching, advocacy, and continued technical and scientific work. For it is your participation in events like this, and the participation of other brilliant inventors, that shines a bright light on the excitement of invention and the incredible benefits it brings to our nation.
Before we hear from our panelists, I’d like to introduce another leader in innovation, Dr. Ellen Ochoa, who most of you already know. Dr. Ochoa joined NASA in 1988 as a research engineer and became the first Hispanic woman to go into space, aboard the space shuttle Discovery, in 1993. In total, she has flown in space four times, logging nearly 1,000 hours in orbit.
She has a bachelor's degree in physics from San Diego State University and a master's and doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University. As a research engineer, Dr. Ochoa investigated optical systems for performing information processing.
She is in fact a co-inventor on three patents and author of several technical papers on Fourier optics. In fact, she was an inventor first—before she was an astronaut.
She has been recognized with NASA's highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal, and the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award for senior executives in the federal government.
She also serves as the evaluation committee chair for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, America’s highest honor in technology.
She has also received many other awards and recognition, including the great honor of having six schools named after her.
Brilliant, persevering women inventors and pioneers like Dr. Ochoa play a critical role in maintaining our nation’s scientific edge, improving our way of life, and enhancing our economic prosperity.
Their work reminds us, every day, of the awe-inspiring power of invention and intellectual property. They also remind us, sometimes literally as in Dr. Ochoa’s case, of what it means to “shoot for the stars.”
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to introduce this video message by a great inventor, a great leader, and a great American, Dr. Ellen Ochoa.