Meet the accomplished John G. Trump.
When it comes to the area of patent law, the Trump touch is desperately needed. No living politician has shown a better capacity to cut through the rationalizations of Leftists, legalistic regulators, and special interests to find a solution that will make America great again, and make no mistake, all three groups are opposed to any serious reform of the patent system.
However, it’s not just President Trump’s touch that is required: it is that of his uncle John G. Trump. For, despite the elder Trump’s being dead, he offers a stellar example of a concept that has been endlessly abused by the patent lobby: the concept of invention.
Let’s be clear: there is a very good reason that John G. Trump was awarded the National Medal of Science by no less a figure than Ronald Reagan. The man was an absolutely irrepressible inventor, with a hand in everything from radiation therapy to radar. So accomplished was he, in fact, that Trump the elder was able to credibly criticize one of the other great inventors in history, Nikola Tesla. According to Trump Sr., Tesla’s papers showed that his “thoughts and efforts…were primarily of a speculative, philosophical, and somewhat promotional character,” and “did not include new, sound, workable principles or methods.”
In other words, according to John Trump, Tesla had a lot of interesting ideas, but they were too vague to be followed through on, and thus not particularly helpful as far as actual innovation went. He knew whereof he spoke: it’s arguable that in creating rotational radiation therapy, John G. Trump actually built the “death ray” that Tesla only theorized about, with the big difference being that he (Trump Sr.) built it for use on cancer cells rather than human beings.
I mention all of this as the basis for a thought experiment: Imagine that when John G. Trump introduced machines capable of rotational radiation therapy to the market, a representative from the estate of Nicola Tesla sued him because Tesla had thought of the concept first, despite the fact that Tesla’s idea was only speculative and not workable. Trump’s revolutionary concept might have been killed in its crib.
Obviously, this is not a situation we should want to exist. Yet it’s precisely the world that the patent troll lobby wants us to have. Indeed, some of them even try to claim John G. Trump as one of their own because he licensed his multiple inventions. The difference is that John G. Trump’s inventions were actual inventions. They were highly original concepts that he alone not only came up with, but actually developed, and as such, not even the most extreme patent dove would deny that they deserved the full protection of the patent system. Even under the Founding Fathers’ wholly consequentialist standards for patent protection — that patents should promote “science and the useful arts” — John G. Trump would’ve been a model case.
On the other hand, contrast John G. Trump’s patents for genuine, life-saving, and world-changing inventions with patents that trolls claim to own. Can you imagine someone like Trump Sr. claiming with a straight face that a drink mixer gives him the rights to data sharing technology? Can you picture Trump Sr. trying to lay claim to all discussion of music because he built a program that can interpret song lyrics? The questions answer themselves, yet this is somehow what the troll lobby would have policymakers in Washington believe. In this regard, Trump Sr. is a valuable example not merely because he shows what sort of inventor the patent system should always protect: he also gives us an ironclad standard for what an inventor is not, i.e., not a speculator who runs around laying claim to obvious, or meaninglessly vague, ideas with no follow-through. An inventor is a builder. An inventor is a disrupter. An inventor is a trailblazer.
Gee, who does that sound like? Indeed, one could argue that when it comes to the political system, President Trump is as much an inventor and innovator as his uncle was in the realm of nuclear physics. Both did things their way without waiting for permission, and both changed the world for the better in doing it.
One only hopes that President Trump will, in addressing patent policy, keep the example both of his own campaign and of his uncle in mind. His bipartisan decisions on appointments so far suggest as much. Let us hope that he stays the course and is not hoodwinked by the parasites who, in defending their pretense to property rights, ultimately steal their claim to legitimacy from the actual inventors.