Federation of American Scientists (FAS) - Project on Government Secrecy
Date: Tuesday, December 30, 2014 @ 01:29:59 EST
The Invention Secrecy Act of 1951 requires the government to impose "secrecy orders" on certain patent applications that contain sensitive information, thereby restricting disclosure of the invention and withholding the grant of a patent. Remarkably, this requirement can be imposed even when the application is generated and entirely owned by a private individual or company without government sponsorship or support.
There are several types of secrecy orders which range in severity from simple prohibitions on export (but allowing other disclosure for legitimate business purposes) up to classification, requiring secure storage of the application and prohibition of all disclosure.
At the end of fiscal year 2014, there were 5,520 secrecy orders in effect.
- Invention Secrecy Activity, statistics reported by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, through FY 2014
- Patents granted to formerly secret patent applications in FY 2014, list of six patents granted, November 2014
- Patent and Trademark Office Notice on Invention Secrecy, Federal Register,
April 23, 2013. "In the interest of national security, patent laws and
rules place certain limitations on the disclosure of information
contained in patents and patent applications and on the filing of
applications for patents in foreign countries."
- Government secrecy orders on patents keep lid on inventions by G.W. Schulz, Center for Investigative Reporting, April 16, 2013.
- Request for Comments on Using Secrecy Orders to Conceal Economically Significant Patents, Federal Register,
April 20, 2012. "The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking
comments as to whether the United States should identify and bar from
publication and issuance certain patent applications as detrimental to
the nation's economic security. The USPTO is also seeking comments on
the desirability of changes to the existing procedures for reviewing
applications that might be detrimental to national security."
- The Invention Secrecy Act of 1951, text of 35 U.S.C. 181-188
For more links to useful material: http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/invention/