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Economic History Commons

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2016

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Full-Text Articles in Economic History

The Emergence Of Classical American Patent Law, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2016

The Emergence Of Classical American Patent Law, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

One enduring historical debate concerns whether the American Constitution was intended to be "classical" -- referring to a theory of statecraft that maximizes the role of private markets and minimizes the role of government in economic affairs. The most central and powerful proposition of classical constitutionalism is that the government's role in economic development should be minimal. First, private rights in property and contract exist prior to any community needs for development. Second, if a particular project is worthwhile the market itself will make it occur. Third, when the government attempts to induce development politics inevitably distorts the decision making ...