A total of 5,784 patent applications remained subject to invention secrecy orders at the end of Fiscal Year 17, according to new data provided by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
The secrecy orders, issued under the Invention Secrecy Act of 1951, restrict disclosure of patent applications considered to be “detrimental to national security” if published.
That total number was up slightly from the 5,680 secrecy orders that were in effect a year earlier.
Most existing patent secrecy orders are renewed year after year.
In FY17, there were 132 new secrecy orders that were imposed, and 28 existing orders that were rescinded, according to the US PTO data. There were 39 new “John Doe” orders imposed on private inventors who sought to patent inventions in which the government has no property interest.
Most invention secrecy applies to inventions involving technology relevant to military applications, but the full scope of the invention secrecy program is not described in public documents.