It has been pretended by some, (and in England especially,) that inventors have a natural and exclusive right to their inventions, and not merely for their own lives, but inheritable to their heirs. But while it is a moot question whether the origin of any kind of property is derived from nature at all, it would be singular to admit a natural and even an hereditary right to inventors. …….. Stable ownership is the gift of social law, and is given late in the progress of society. It would be curious then, if an idea, the fugitive fermentation of an individual brain, could, of natural right, be claimed in exclusive and stable property. If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Isaac McPherson, August 13, 1813

I assume it is a Lemma, that it is the invention of the machine itself, which is to give a patent right, and not the application of it to any particular purpose, of which it is susceptible. If one person invents a knife convenient for pointing our pens, another cannot have a patent right for the same knife to point our pencils. A compass was invented for navigating the sea; another could not have a patent right for using it to survey land. A machine for threshingwheathas been invented in Scotland; a second person cannot get a patent right for the same machine to threshoats,a thirdrye, a fourthpeas, a fifthclover, &c.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Isaac McPherson, August 13, 1813

As sensible as this is, patents for applications is something drug companies are allowed to apply for, and use to keep generics off the market.

The saying there shall be no monopolies, lessens the incitements to ingenuity, which is spurred on by the hope of a monopoly for a limited time, as of fourteen years; but the benefit of even limited monopolies is too doubtful to be opposed to that of their general suppression.

Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, July, 1788

By monopolies both Jefferson and Madison were talking about copyrights and patents. Jefferson seems to have thought we’d be better off without them. Today our government seems happy to just give control of the internet to the entertainment industry. And extra extra long copyrights. All bow down to Disney.