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Remarks by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the National Inventors Hall of Fame Annual Induction Event

AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY

Thank you, Andrei, for that kind introduction. The country is truly fortunate that you are the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Thank you for your service to all inventors living here and everywhere in the world. 

And thank you — everyone attending tonight — for your support of the inventors who have transformed our society.

Our hearty congratulations to this year’s inductees and historical inductees into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. And for those who were already in the National Inventors Hall of Fame, welcome back, and thank you for all you have done, and continue to do, to advance our society.

It is truly fitting that we are holding this event in the National Building Museum. Its grandeur speaks directly to the greatness of what you have achieved, and to the importance of this event.

Imagine our world without inventors? We wouldn’t have fire, the wheel or, on a more contemporary note, the Internet, social media, and lots more in between.

Our inventors are our true mentors, our role models, and our heroes.

And for every one of our inductees who has achieved this honor, there are countless others right now — likewise engaged in the intellectual endeavor of tinkering, contemplating, and creating something new or different. We must think of them, too, and thank them.

For those being inducted today, we greatly admire your grit in persevering through the trials and errors needed to turn your ideas into reality, and for your contributions to humanity. We also salute the many others who contributed to your success: your family, colleagues, mentors, and professors, and to the generations of inventors who preceded you.

Our inductees know better than anyone else how important it is for us to thank them as well. Now, we must encourage and inspire our next generation of citizens to improve upon your ideas, your discoveries, and your inventions.

China has 10 times as many STEM graduates as we do, so we must be more inventive per-person than they are.

We need you to mentor the young bright people who may not realize that they, too, can be inventors. Your induction into the Inventors Hall of Fame gives you the platform to do so.

There is a special reason why I can relate to your success. My wife’s great grandfather — Thomas E. Murray — was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame in 2011. He was issued Patent Number 9-2-0 — 6-1-3 for the Electric Safety Fuse on May 4, 1909, ninety years ago this Saturday. During his lifetime, Thomas Murray was issued 462 U.S. patents, including ones for power sockets, dimmer switches, air conditioning, and the dishwasher. His inventions created the electrical appliance industry. He actually had even more inventions. But he generously put some of them in the names of his assistants so they could earn royalties.

Just last June, I myself had the great privilege to co-sign with Director Iancu and the President, Patent Number 10 million, an achievement no other country has even come close to approaching. More remarkably, half of all patents ever issued have been issued over the last 25 years.

Inventing remains one of our most rapidly growing activities.

Again, we congratulate all of you for your achievements, and for your induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. It is an honor to be in your company.

Thank you.

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