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Fluffeh writes "The USPTO is considering a rather interesting request straight from lobbyists via congress. That certain "Economically Significant" patents should be kept secret during the process (PDF Warning) of being evaluated and granted. While this does occur at the moment on a very select few patents "due to national security" for things like nuclear energy and the like — this would allow it to go much, much further. "By statute, patent applications are published no earlier than 18 months after the filing date, but it takes an average of about three years for a patent application to be processed. This period of time between publication and patent award provides worldwide access to the information included in those applications. In some circumstances, this information allows competitors to design around U.S. technologies and seize markets before the U.S. inventor is able to raise financing and secure a market."" Link to Original Source
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