Opinions and Editorials

May. 22, 2024

The Baltimore Sun: ‘Shark Tank,’ Abraham Lincoln and the Super Soaker: an unconventional history of U.S. patents by Ed Martin

What do “Shark Tank,” Abraham Lincoln, and the Super Soaker have in common? Each has played a part in America’s longstanding and unique history of honoring the inventors who make life better for everyone.

Most people who watch “Shark Tank” don’t realize the 10-minute pitches they see are an edited version of a full pitch, which can last two hours. The Sharks almost always ask, “Do you have a patent?” The answer can easily be the make-or-break moment where the deal comes to life or falls through.

The Sharks are savvy enough to realize the irreplaceable role that patents play in American business, a concept our Founding Fathers also understood. Among the 4,543 words of our U.S. Constitution is the Patent Clause — Clause 8 of Article I, Section 8. It 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.”

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