Washington, D.C., partner Bob Stoll was quoted in Bloomberg Businessweek on the subject of an order from Congress requiring the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to consider whether sensitive patent applications should be kept secret to protect them from economic espionage.

Secrecy provisions have long been reserved for innovations with national security importance, however, Congress is considering whether similar restrictions should apply to inventions with implications for “economic security.”

The issue, however, is that if inventors’ U.S. application are kept secret, they are unable to patent their ideas in other countries. The implementation of a broad-ranging secrecy provision could, therefore, curb the ability of inventors to promote their ideas globally.

“It’s ridiculous, absurd,” said Bob, a member of the Intellectual Property Practice Group and former Commissioner for Patents at the USPTO.

“We have an economically valuable patent we don’t want our companies to secure in China, in Europe, in Australia or anywhere else in the world? It flies in the face of what our country should be trying to do.”

He added that manufacturers aren’t willing to give up foreign patents, even if they are tipping off rivals or counterfeiters.

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