Law - Atomic Weapon

In the U.S., patents may not be granted on any invention or discovery which is useful solely in the utilization of special nuclear material or atomic energy in an atomic weapon. The following definitions are given in the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended:

The term ''atomic weapon'' means any device utilizing atomic energy, exclusive of the means for transporting or propelling the device (where such means is a separable and divisible part of the device), the principal purpose of which is for use as, or for development of, a weapon, a weapon prototype, or a weapon test device.

The term ''atomic energy'' means all forms of energy released in the course of nuclear fission or nuclear transformation.

The term ''special nuclear material'' means (1) plutonium, uranium enriched in the isotope 233 or in the isotope 235, and any other material which the Atomic Energy Commission determines to be special nuclear material, but does not include source material; or (2) any material artificially enriched by any of the foregoing, but does not include source material.

The term ''source material'' means (1) uranium, thorium, or any other material which is determined by the Commission to be source material; or (2) ores containing one or more of the foregoing materials, in such concentration as the Commission may by regulation determine from time to time.

The position of the USPTO on this issue is described in the following section(s) of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP):

MPEP 706.03(a) - Rejections under 35 U.S.C. 101
MPEP 706.03(b) - Barred by Atomic Energy Act

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