from the can-you-sue-a-glowing-man dept.
dooling writes "In case you were thinking of building your own atom bomb, you may want to weigh your intellectual property liability. It seems there are over 2000 patents covering the atom bomb. To avoid publishing the patents, a central tenet of the patent system, "the project made use of an obscure law whereby patent applications could be filed but no one would actually look at them or evaluate them. They would just be stamped secret and stored in a vault at the patent office." The irony here is that while all the patents were essentially stored in the same place at the patent office and written to be understandable by any engineer, the Manhattan Project worked diligently to compartmentalize knowledge, using code names for just about all aspects of the project and keeping tight security on all information. It seems the patents were filed to give the U.S. government an essential monopoly on the burgeoning nuclear industry and protect it against others who might patent similar technologies later."