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Directory:Patents

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The following was posted by telessar on April 22, 2014

Regarding patents and secrecy: "Patent status still pending, thus the necessity for a black box." - This is a very common misconception on this site, and really needs to be addressed.

Once a patent is filed, there is generally no need for further secrecy regarding the substance of the patent. Activities AFTER a patent is filed have no effect on the patentability of the invention in any jurisdiction I am aware of.

In fact, under international patent treaties, most patent applications MUST BE PUBLISHED 18 MONTHS AFTER THEY ARE FILED.

The only exceptions I know of are US patent applications where the inventor is filing only in the US and not in any other country, and possibly patent applications dealing with classified subject matter (e.g. advanced weapons systems, some nuclear technology, etc.); however, if the patent application was sealed by the government, it is unlikely that the inventor would be out demonstrating and discussing the prototype.

So in almost all cases (except for inventors filing ONLY in the US) if an inventor claims to have filed a patent filed, it will become public 18 months after it is filed.

If an inventor claims to have filed a patent (except for inventors filing ONLY in the US) and it is 18 months since the filing date, the patent application is almost certainly public (if it is real) and there is no reason for maintain secrecy. ("Secret" patents on national security grounds are very rare.)

To summarize: the full text and drawings of a patent application will be published in the public domain unless one of the following applies -
1) The inventor is filing ONLY in the US and has requested that the patent application not be published.
2) The inventor filed less than 18 months ago and is trying to keep it a secret until it is officially published.
3) The patent application has been sealed by the government on national security grounds (this is clearly not true if the inventor is filing in multiple countries. Also this kind of thing is very rare, and it is unlikely that the inventor would be out discussing it publicly)

EVEN IF one of the above three cases holds true, I am not aware of any reason (based in patent law) for maintaining the secrecy of an invention after the patent application. Revealing how an invention works after the application is filed should have NO impact on patentability (in any country I am aware of), and literally makes no sense whatsoever unless the inventor has a good business reason to keep it secret AND one of the three above conditions holds.

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