Description of data in the Soviet journal Vnedrennye Izobreteniya.

Historical Background

Shortly after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution officials struggled to revive an economy devastated by civil war by introducing a New Economic Policy (NEP) that drew on market economy principles. They also sought foreign investments and implemented a concessions policy designed to attract foreign companies to help with rebuilding industry. The 1924 patent law was part of their effort to gain foreign investors, especially those possessing advanced technologies. These market-oriented policies proved temporary and Communist Party officials shifted to central planning, an economic approach more in line with their desire for greater political control. The inventions law of 1931, part of this policy shift, created a new type of invention protection, the inventor's certificate (avtorskoye svidetel'stvo), which transferred the ownership of inventions to the state and reserved patent rights for foreigners. (The inventor's certificate occupies a key role in Ayn Rand's novel, Atlas Shrugged. See book review.)

Central planners believed their economic system, with its replacement of the bourgeois patent by a state-owned inventor's certificate, to be more efficient than the market economies in which competitors hid important technologies from each other. Socialist producers, guided by a central plan, would naturally share new technologies. To further sharing, the Committee for Inventing, which oversaw patent examination, established a Kartoteka SO (Card File for Socialist Exchange) that listed the enterprises using new inventions.

The post World War II renewal of the state's efforts at establishing an expanded invention system based on socialist principles led to announcing the use of new inventions in the official Byulleten' alongside the listing of newly granted inventor's certificates. By 1968 the annual number of used inventions had increased to such an extent that the a separate publication, Vnedrennye Izobreteniya, was published by the Committee for Inventions and Discoveries. The journal ended publication in 1996. (See article in 1979 Joint Economic Committee, Congress of the United States, Soviet Economy in a Time of Change, for more detailed information on inventor's certificates and Soviet data on inventions. Martens Young JEC article.)

Journal's Data Elements

Data from State Committee:

Inventor's Certificate Number
Unique number designated at publication
Application Number
Unique number designated at application
Examination Department
Technical department assigned to examine invention
Application Date
Date application submitted to VNIIGPE of State Committee
International Patent Classification (IPC)
Hierarchical system for classification of inventions by different areas of technology (See IPC Manual)
Publication Date
Date published in Byulleten'
Title of Invention
Assigned by State Committee
Originating Facility
Organization where invention created
Last names and initials or last names, first names and patronymics of inventors

Data from Form 4-NT:

Date of First Use
Facility of First Use (see Censorship Issues below)
Organization where invention first used
Superior Administrative Unit of using facility
For example, Ministry or Academy
Location of Using Facility
Location of organization where invention first used
Economic Savings (often not given)
In rubles

Sample Pages from the Journal

An excerpt from Vnedrennye Izobreteniya is provided here in Russian.

Comprehensiveness of the Journal's Coverage

The State Committee for Inventions and Discoveries processed inventions developed at civilian facilities and some inventions developed at defense-industrial facilities. The Ministry of Defense's Inventions Department managed inventions that were of purely military significance or used in weapons systems. Relatively few of the inventions processed by the Ministry of Defense were ever published; they can be identified by their application numbers.

Application Number Ranges for Secret Inventions Registered at the Ministry of Defense, 1936–1991

Application Number Range Est. Range of Application Dates
205000 to 205999 July 1936-1938
216000 to 216999 1938-April 1939
231000 to 231999 March 1939-May 1940
246000 to 247033 August 1940-April 1941
310000 to 313732 March 1941-July 1943
324000 to 330000 April 1943-September
360000 to 369999 September 1947-July 1949
420000 to 429999 July 1949-1952
460000 to 469999 1953-October 1958
700000 to 719999 November 1958-January 1963
950000 to 999999 February 1963-October 1968
1500000 to 1599999 November 1968-February 1976
2200000 to 2299999 March 1976-December 1980
3010000 to 3209999 January 1981-September 1988
4500000 to 4542963 October 1988-28 June 1991

The journal Vnedrennye Izobreteniya covered exclusively inventions handled by the State Committee for Inventions and Discoveries and contained no use information on inventions processed by the Ministry of Defense. Quite possibly the Ministry of Defense maintained a similar journal for its used inventions, but it would have been highly classified. We have no evidence of such a journal.

Censorship Issues

The Byulleten' and early editions of the journal Vnedrennye Izobreteniya published use information that carefully avoided identifying any using facilities directly subordinated to defense-industrial ministries. (The defense-industrial ministries were: Minoboronpom, Minsudprom, Minradioprom, Minelektronprom, Minmashinostroyenia, Minaviaprom, and Minpromsredstsvyazi. Two defense industrial-ministries, Minsredmash and Minobshchemash, were never mentioned, as were the KGB and organizations directly subordinated to the Ministry of Defense.)

When citing use information for a defense-industrial ministry, the reference tersely stated that an invention was "used at an enterprise of" a particular defense-industrial ministry. For example, if an entry listed LOMO (the Leningrad Optical Mechanical Association) as the originating facility (zayavitel'), it just listed a specific ministry, say the Ministry of the Defense Industry, as the user.

This information soon became even more restricted and whenever an originating facility was identified, no defense industrial ministry was mentioned and only a use date was provided. Later the names of all defense-industrial ministries were omitted.

Some civilian industrial ministry users were formatted like defense industrial ministries, i.e., no facility was mentioned and the reference tersely stated that an invention was "used at an enterprise of" a particular civilian-industrial ministry. It seems reasonable to conclude these entries represented closed or secret facilities at civilian ministries, such as Minmedbioprom or Minelektrotekprom. In the later editions of the journal, these cryptic civilian industry references are dropped and only use dates are provided.