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Public Papers - 1990

Statement on Signing the Bill Ensuring the Applicability of Patent Law to Activities in Outer Space


Today I am signing S. 459, legislation that will ensure the applicability of U.S. patent laws to our activities in outer space. This important and necessary legislation will remedy the current uncertainty in patent law as to the jurisdiction that applies to activities in outer space. This uncertainty arises primarily because the existing patent laws of most countries generally have no extraterritorial effect.

S. 459 will specifically ensure that U.S. patent laws apply to inventions made, used, or sold in space on vehicles under the jurisdiction or control of the United States. The Act is consistent with the purpose of our patent laws -- to promote the progress of science and useful arts. With the enactment of this legislation, U.S. commercial entities will know that their activities in space will receive the same patent protection that they would receive if conducted on Earth. The certainty that inventions that advance space technology will be recognized under our patent laws will further encourage the private sector to undertake commercial space ventures, which is one of the important objectives of our National Space Policy.

This legislation is also important because it represents the final step required in implementation of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Space Station Cooperation between the United States and our international partners -- Canada, Japan, and the European Space Agency. The Act provides the flexibility required to carry out commitments regarding the applicability of U.S. patent laws under the Agreement for the development, operation, and utilization of Space Station Freedom.

George Bush

The White House,

November 15, 1990.

Note: S. 459, approved November 15, was assigned Public Law No. 101 - 580. The statement was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on November 16. An original was not available for verification of the content of this statement.

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