The Secret Sharer: Executive Patent Privilege

By Welch, Matt | Reason, January 2006 | Go to article overview

The Secret Sharer: Executive Patent Privilege


Welch, Matt, Reason


THE LANDMARK 1953 ruling U.S. v. Reynolds gave the White House unreviewable authority to keep national security information secret even from the Supreme Court. We already knew the decision was based on stack of brazen government lies. What we didn't know was that it might be used to screw an inventor out of his royalties.

The Reynolds case followed the fatal 1948 crash of an Air Force B-29 that was involved in a classified drone mission. The crash was due to engine failures in a craft that had a miserable safety and maintenance record, according to an Air Force investigation that the government fought to keep secret. The Supreme Court sided with the government, ruling that, in a time of "vigorous preparation for national defense," the judicial branch "should not jeopardize the security which the [secrets] privilege is meant to protect by insisting upon an examination of the evidence."

Decades later, declassified documents revealed that the flight had no national security import at all and that Air Force officials had perjured themselves when they told the Court otherwise. …

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The Secret Sharer: Executive Patent Privilege
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