meaning of the word "inventor" as a creator of something new became the prevailing use and while both meanings of inventor are still recognized in such modern dictionaries as Murray's New English Dictionary, Webster's New International Dictionary and the Century Dictionary and Encyclopedia, the meaning of inventor as "a finder out or discoverer" is now considered obsolete or archaic. However, is seems to the committee that the meaning to be attached to the term "inventor" as used in the Constitution must be the meaning in general use at the time of the framing of the Constitution rather than the meaning prevailing in present-day usage.
Furthermore, there are many instances where the provisions of the Constitution have been held to embrace affairs which while literally within the meaning of a constitutional phrase, were not conceived of by the framers at the time that the Constitution was written. For example, the power to regulate interstate commerce, which was then mainly by horse or by rowboat or sailboat is now held by the courts to cover regulation of steam transoortation, telegraphic communication and even radio communication, matters beyond the wildest dreams of the framers of the constitution.
An indication of the construction that the courts are likely to place on the word inventor in the constitutional provision can be found in their construction of the words "author" and "writer" in the same paragraph. The Constitution gives Congress power—
To promote the Progress of Science and useful arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.
Under this provision the original act of May 31, 1790 (1 Stat. 124) allowed copyright of maps and charts as well as books. By successive legislation this right was extended to include photographs, statutes, models and designs. (See, for instance, 35 Stat. 1075). It might well be doubted whether mapmakers, chartmakers, photographers, sculptors, modelers and designers were "authors" and whether maps, charts, photographs, statutes, models and designs were "writings" but the constitutionality of this legislation has been sustained from the beginning. Thus in Lithographic C. vs Sarony (1883, 111 U.S. 53) it was contended that a photograph was not writing nor the production of an author, but the Supreme Court sustained the statute allowing a copyright for photographs. ,,,,,,
As to copyrights there was doubt on two words ''authors and writings , which certainly do not have in ordinary speech such broad meanings as Congress and the Supreme Court have given them. But the court had no difficulty in sustaining a sufficiently liberal construction. As to patents the doubt is only as to the word "inventors". The word "discovery aptly describes the situation when a new and distinct variety of plant is found and "inventors" is certainly as elastic a word as "authors". It is not to be expected that the courts would place themselves in the position of ïmpedmg the progress of the science and useful art of agriculture by holding so narrow a definition of the word "inventor" as to find that the proposed legislation was undoubtedly beyond the power of the Congress.