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Reaffirming Intellectual Property Rights in an Information Age

Recorded on October 15, 2002

The Van Andel Center located at The Heritage Foundation

This year marks the bicentennial of the creation of the U.S. Patent Office. For two hundred years, the USPTO has served as the clearinghouse for American innovation. Indeed, intellectual property rights -- the basic right to benefit from a product of one's thoughts and ideas -- have played a critical role in America's evolution into the most technologically advanced, economically vibrant power on earth. The celebration of the legacy of the USPTO and America's IP system comes at a time of great challenge for the agency - and for intellectual property rights generally. An explosion of patent filings and increasingly complex technology threatens to overwhelm the USPTO. Patent pendency rates now average over two years, and without significant changes to the way they are processed, rates soon will reach three to four years.

At the same time, the very tenets of the U.S. intellectual property system are being challenged, in areas ranging from the pirating of music to the weakening of pharmaceutical patents. Intellectual property is the principal engine for the creation of wealth in our society, and therefore, our speaker will argue, it deserves the same stringent protection that we afford tangible private property. Please join Judge Rogan, a former Member of Congress, to discuss these and other issues.