Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.
Abraham Lincoln (180965)
Next came the Patent laws. These began in England in 1624; and, in this country, with the adoption of our constitution. Before then [these?], any man might instantly use what another had invented; so that the inventor had no special advantage from his own invention. The patent system changed this; secured to the inventor, for a limited time, the exclusive use of his invention; and thereby added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius, in the discovery and production of new and useful things.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN, second lecture on discoveries and inventions, delivered to the Phi Alpha Society of Illinois College at Jacksonville, Illinois, February 11, 1859.The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Roy P. Basler, vol. 3, p. 357 (1953).