Leahy Speaks About Vermont’s Long History Of Innovation And Invention

WASHINGTON (Thursday, September 8, 2011) – The U.S. Senate is debating the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act.  Senator Patrick Leahy is the lead Senate author of the legislation, which will make the first comprehensive updates to the nation’s patent system in nearly 60 years.  The Senate is scheduled to vote on the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act later today. 


Vermont receives more patents per capita than any other state in the nation.  The first U.S. patent issued was awarded to Vermonter Samuel Hopkins of Pittsford. 


Today on the Senate floor, Leahy delivered the following remarks, highlighting Vermonters’ role in innovation and invention from the earliest days of the country to today.


Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee,

On Vermont Inventors And Innovators,
And H.R. 1249, The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act

September 8, 2011

When the America Invents Act was first considered by the Senate in March, I spoke about the contributions Vermonters have made to innovation in America since the founding of our Nation.  From the first patent ever issued by our Government, to cutting edge research and inventions produced today, Vermonters have been at the forefront of innovation since the Nation’s birth.  While many may think Green Mountain State an unlikely hotbed of innovation, Vermont is actually issued the most patents per capita of any state in the country.  It is a small state to be sure, but one that is bursting with creativity.

The rich history of inventive spirit in Vermont is long and diverse.  Vermonters throughout the state have pursued innovations from the industrial revolution to the computer age. Vermont inventors discovered new ways to weigh large objects and to enjoy the outdoors.  They perfected new ways to traverse rivers and more environmentally friendly ways to live in our homes.  Over the years, as America has grown and prospered, Vermont’s innovative and creative spirit has made the lives of all Americans better and more productive.  The patent system in this country has been the catalyst that spurred these inventors to take the risks necessary to bring these ideas to the marketplace.

The story of innovation in Vermont is truly the American story.  It has been driven by independent inventors and small businesses taking chances on new ideas.  A strong patent system allowed these ideas to flourish and brought our country unprecedented economic growth.  These same kinds of inventors exist today in Vermont and throughout the country.  They need to be assured that the patent system that served those that came before them so well can do the same today.  The America Invents Act will provide that assurance for years to come.     

Speaking about Vermont today, I cannot help but think of the devastation that Hurricane Irene has caused in so many communities at home.  I saw the damage and heartbreak first-hand.  I also saw the fruits of innovation that will help bring recovery to communities throughout Vermont.  The heavy machinery that helped to clear debris and that will rebuild our roads, bridges, and homes.  The helicopters that brought food and water to stranded residents, and the bottles that allowed safe drinking water to reach them.  The American patent system has helped to develop and refine countless technologies that drive our country in times of prosperity and tragedy alike.  It is critical to ensure that this system remains the best in the world.

Vermont and the country as a whole deserve the world’s best patent system.  The innovators of the past had exactly that, and we can ensure that the innovators among us today will have it as well by passing the America Invents Act.  I am proud of the inventive contributions that Vermonters have made since the founding of this country, and I hope to honor their legacy and inspire the next generation by securing the passage of this legislation.

I’ve been here for a number of years.  This is one of those historic moments.  The patent system is one of the few things enshrined in our Constitution.  It is also something that hasn’t been updated for over half of a century.  We can do that.  We can do that today with our votes.  We can complete this bill.  We can send it to the President.  The President has assured me he will sign it.  And we’ll make America stronger, we’ll create jobs, we’ll have a better system, and it won’t cost the American taxpayers anything.  That is something we ought to do. 

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