The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has a secret Sensitive Application Warning System (‘SAWS’) program for extra review of patent applications where action might embarrass the agency.  The problem is how the program functions and which applicants and applications are subject to SAWS are all secret.  We know only the broadest guidelines for the program and know that if an application is referred to the SAWS program, then issuance of the patent is delayed by a substantial period of time.  The first evidence of the program was leaked in 2006 and the PTO formally acknowledged the existence of the SAWS program in October, 2014 in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.  The PTO has rebuffed other FOIA requests for more information about the program.Any secret program, particularly a secret program by which government decisions are made, carries the potential for abuse and arbitrary oppression.

— R. Yarbrough, Esq.