question.jpgIn Trade Secrets

Should I patent something or keep it a trade secret?

The fundamental different between the protection offered by patent law and trade secret law is that patent law protects publicly disclosed information while trade secret law protects information kept secret. The decision to whether you should protect as a trade secret or seek to protect it with a patent is therefore a difficult one. You need to consider many business and technology details of what you are interested in protecting and the associated market. For example, if the information only has value for a short time, it may be better to save the expense of seeking a patent and just treat that information as a trade secret. However, if the information or product is something which could be reverse engineered or independently created, you would be better protected by having a patent. Of course, you have to assess whether the product or information even meets the necessary requirements to be entitled to a patent. These are but a few of the inquiries you must make before deciding which route to take.

In addition, although patents offers stronger protection than trade secrets (nobody, under almost any circumstances, can use your patented information or product without your permission, which is not the case for trade secret information), a patent lasts for a limited time while a trade secret can last forever. So you also have to assess the need for stronger protection versus the need for a longer term of protection.