Innovation Nationalism

42 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2018 Last revised: 2 Jun 2019

See all articles by Sapna Kumar

Sapna Kumar

University of Minnesota Law School

Date Written: August 23, 2018


Nationalism has experienced a global resurgence, with many world leaders advocating a return to a glorious, and often illusory, past. In the United States, economic nationalism has received support from Democrats and Republicans alike, fueled by growing public backlash to free trade. These changes are having a major impact on U.S. patent policy. Over the past several decades, the government has cultivated an identity of the United States as being an innovative country. It has implemented patent policies that reinforced this identity, such as strengthening domestic patent rights and requiring trading partners to adopt U.S.-style patent and intellectual property laws. Many times, these policies have negative consequences, such as forcing U.S. consumers to subsidize chosen industries through paying higher prices for goods. This innovation-driven approach to economic nationalism, however, is changing under the Trump administration. President Trump has chosen to advance a national identity of nativism and cultural traditionalism, in which foreign people and foreign ideas are viewed with disdain. With regard to economic policy, he has embraced a strong sovereign model of governance, implementing protectionist import tariffs and threatening unilateral trade sanctions against China. This Article looks to political science and international political economy research to understand what economic nationalism is and how U.S. patent policy helps advance it. It looks at the emergence of innovation nationalism under prior administrations and examines how shifting national identity under the Trump administration is impacting it.

Keywords: patents; nationalism; innovation; Trump

Suggested Citation

Kumar, Sapna, Innovation Nationalism (August 23, 2018). Connecticut Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Sapna Kumar (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota Law School ( email )

United States

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