We keep hearing what a strong supporter the government is of intellectual property laws, and how patents are the basis of our economy (whether or not you actually believe that is a different story -- but it's what the government keeps telling us). So what happens when a patent lawsuit comes up involving the government use of a supposedly patented technology? The government invokes a "states secret privilege" to effectively kill the lawsuit altogether, allowing them to use the patented technology without having to license it. The government certainly may have a legitimate reason for invoking state secrets privileges, but it's still ironic in this situation given the claims we keep hearing about how important patents are. Of course, there's a second issue which is glossed over in the article: the inventors here seemed to agree to help Lucent build this new system without a specific contract in place, but just "an expectation" that Lucent would license the patent later. It seems like having an agreement in place earlier would have made more sense and would have helped avoid this situation.
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