Invention Secrecy Act

This act was brought into practice on February 1, 1952.  The law was designed to prevent the new inventions and technological arts related to federal agencies to reach the general public, which was believed to be a threat to the national security and economic stability of the country.

Invention Secrecy Act

During World War I, the US Congress gave the rights to USPTO to categorize the defense-related patents and avoid them for public availability.  Initially, this act was in force only during the period of the war, but again it was brought into force in October 1941 anticipating the entry of the US in World War II.  The study revealed that approximately 11,200 US patent applications were under secrecy orders, which made them hold off for any prosecution. The inventors have also issued notices not to disclose the invention in public and filing them in foreign countries for security reasons.  The most technological areas which received secrecy orders then were radar, electronics, and synthetic materials

Under the invention secrecy act 1951, though the inventions were ordered to suppress and avoid public availability, they must still be renewed every year.

Under this act defence agencies like Army, Navy, Air Force, National Security Agency (NSA), Department of Energy, and also NASA, Justice Department, had the responsibility of classifying the new inventions which fall under them.

If an application is ordered for secrecy, it will be barred from awarding a patent, and strictly prohibits from making it available for public review and disclosing it to anyone.

The statistics show at the end of FY 2018 (September 30, 2018), the patent secrecy orders in effect stood at 5,792.

What happens to those inventions which are under secrecy order?  As long as they are under the act a patent cannot be granted.  Once the invention is out of the clutches of the act, a patent will be granted to the invention.