08/19/19

The Current State of Innovation within the U.S. Legal System – Views on Evolving Protection for Intellectual Property Rights in the United States from the USPTO and the Courts


The Current State of Innovation within the U.S. Legal System – Views on Evolving Protection for Intellectual Property Rights in the United States from the USPTO and the Courts

Andrei Iancu

Good afternoon everyone! Thank you, Pete Thurlow, for that generous introduction. It’s a great honor to open today’s panel discussion on the current state of innovation within the U.S. legal system, and I appreciate NYIPLA’s gracious invitation to be part of this outstanding annual event.

This very day 59 years ago, on March 22, 1960, the United States Patent Office issued patent number 2,929,922 to New York native Arthur Schawlow of Bell Labs and Charles Townes, a Columbia University professor and consultant to Bell Labs, for coinventing the optical maser—now called a laser. While doing postdoctoral research at Columbia University, Schawlow met Townes, and together they sought ways to extend the maser principle of amplifying electromagnetic waves into the shorter wavelengths of infrared and visible light.

In 1958, the two scientists published a proposal for the invention in an issue of Physical Review, prompting an international competition to build a working laser. Today, of course, lasers have countless applications and make it possible to play CDs, correct eyesight, scan labels in a grocery store, enable autonomous vehicles, measure time precisely, survey planets and galaxies, and even witness the birth of stars. 

Their invention changed the world.

Dr. Townes was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) in 1976 and Dr. Schaulow joined him 20 years later. These two New Yorkers join a long list of Americans who, backed by our patent system for the last 229 years, have fueled human progress on a scale and at a pace that far exceeds anything humanity has ever seen—at any time in the past, or anywhere else in the world. American heroes who—through their ingenuity, hard work and perseverance—have improved the state of the human condition.

101 J. Pat. & Trademark Off. Soc’y 11 (2019)

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