a new achievement arrived at through knowledge of nature and society. Scientific discovery forms the basis of the scientific and technological revolution, giving new direction to the development of science and technology and revolutionizing social production. Discoveries have a special significance at the contemporary stage of scientific and technological progress, when the period of time between a discovery and its practical application is being greatly reduced.
Soviet legislation recognizes discoveries as objects of special legal protection, regarding them as the establishment of previously unknown, objectively existing laws, properties, and phenomena of the material world that bring about a radical change in the level of knowledge (Statute on Discoveries, Inventions, and Efficiency Proposals, 1973; Collected Decrees of the USSR, 1973, no. 19, art. 109).
Discovery is protected by law. In the USSR a state system exists for the disclosure and centralized registration of scientific discoveries and for the establishment of priority of discovery. This system facilitates the wider application of discoveries and stimulates scientists’ interest in fundamental scientific research and the development of scientific creativity. The number of discoveries and inventions made and effectively used is one of the major criteria in evaluating the work of research organizations.
To be credited with a discovery, a person must submit an application to the State Committee for Inventions and Discoveries of the Council of Ministers of USSR. The application must contain experimental or theoretical proof (as a rule, both) of the validity of the scientific proposal. The decision on whether to recognize the discovery is made by the committee in conjunction with the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Discoveries are recorded in a special register and made public; since 1969 the short descriptions of discoveries entered in the State Register of the USSR have been published in the Yearbook of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia. If the registration of a discovery is not contested over a period of one year, the committee issues the discoverer a diploma, accompanied by remuneration. The diploma attests to state recognition of the discovery, to the priority of the discovery, to the identity of the discoverers, and to the right to remuneration and other rights and benefits granted by law to discoverers.
Diplomas are not given for discoveries in geography, archaeology, and paleontology, for discovery of mineral resources, or for discoveries in the social sciences.
As of June, 1, 1974, 1,420 discoveries had been entered in the State Register of the USSR (kept since 1957), including 17 discoveries in the field of space exploration, 21 discoveries in nuclear physics and plasma physics, and 30 discoveries in biology and medicine. The discoveries were made by 390 Soviet and nine foreign scientists.
Legal protection for discoveries has also been established in several other socialist countries, including Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Mongolia. The Convention on the Establishment of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which regards discoveries as a special object of law, has created certain preconditions for the introduction of legal protection for discoveries in other countries.
V. V. SAPELKIN and V. E. TSAREGORODSKII