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Remarks by Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the USPTO Ceremony Honoring Senator Orrin Hatch


Thank you, Andrei, for that kind introduction. I, too, have a lyric from one of the Senator’s repertoire of songs. It’s a rock-n-roll number and it goes like this: “America Rocks, when we sing allegiance to this country that we love: Ooooo-yeah.”

“Ooooo-yeah”: There isn’t a better way to describe the implacable spirit that Senator Hatch brings to his song writing, and to his unabated commitment to America.

It is fitting that President Trump last Friday, named Senator Hatch as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. Congratulations, Senator. It’s an honor for all of us to be here in your company. It means that two songwriters were winners of this year’s medal: You, and Elvis Presley.

Over his years in the United States Senate, there has been no more ardent a champion of American innovation than Senator Hatch. You have been a stalwart behind the promotion of U.S. innovation and invention as the key driver of the American economy.

If you type the word “innovation” into Senator Hatch’s website search engine, there are more than 450 entries. And those entries go back only a few years. Mind you, Senator Hatch has been working on the nuts and bolts of innovation since he arrived in the Senate in — I’m not going to say the year, Senator. And your efforts have been bipartisan.

The Senator has been the leader in reforming the U.S. patent system. You have championed an immigration system aimed at attracting the most scientifically and technologically talented individuals in the world.

You have led the charge to stifle the theft of trade secrets; to transfer technology from our universities and national laboratories into the private sector; and to support funding of research and development. You were the leader on issues related to data privacy; broadband investments; medical technologies; and workforce training. You know that innovation comes about best when it’s regulated least.

You have been chairman of the Republican High Tech Task Force, and have done what so few others have: You have taken good ideas and crafted them into good legislation. You turn the talk-into-walk. That might be a new lyric for you, Senator!

You know that the United States is the most innovative country in the history of the world, because we have stayed true to our free-market principles that allow companies and individual inventors to aim big, create jobs, and grow the economy. Nobody in the United States holds it against anybody for trying.

You know how important science and technology are to Utah’s economy, to the U.S. economy, to the global economy, and to the betterment of every member of the human race.

Today, we are reaping the fruits of your commitment to American innovation, and to America’s inventors. We are experiencing a revitalization of industries, from energy, to transportation, space, telecommunications, agriculture, health care, robotics — you name the industry and it’s being revolutionized by the application of new technologies.

As much as Senator Hatch is a rock ‘n roll star, he’s also a technology star. Who says you have to be young to understand technology?

He also was the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee who ushered through the tax cuts that galvanized the economy, even though he didn’t write the lyric, “I’ve got the money now!”

The Senate is going to miss you, Senator Hatch. The Commerce Department’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is going to miss you, Senator Hatch. I will personally miss your guidance and the fact that you were the first Senator who treated me to lunch in the Senate Dining Room. I also know how much the President relies on your support and on your advice.

From everyone in this room, and throughout our country, thank you for your service to the innovation community of the United States of America. Yours is a lasting legacy upon which this country continues to build.

Congratulations on the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and on a sterling career of service to the American people.