A trade secret can be viable alternative to a patent for protecting information. A trade secret is information that (1) derives economic value from not being generally known and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by other persons to whom it might be valuable; and (2) is subject to reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy. See, e.g., Fla. Stat. § 688.001(4). Information that can be protected under trade secret law includes formulas, recipes, patterns, compilations, devices, methods, techniques and customer lists. Trade secrets can fall into one of two categories.
The first category is information that is not suitable for patent protection. This category of information will not be granted patent rights because the information does not meet the patentability criteria. To learn more about the patentability criteria for inventions click here. Many manufacturing companies maintain certain manufacturing processes not capable of patent protection as trade secrets. For example, a manufacturing company may keep its quality control processes, manufacturing assembly processes, customer lists and pricing as trade secrets.
The second category is information that is suitable for patent protection. When information falls into this category, a business is faced with deciding whether to keep an invention as a trade secret or to seek patent protection. Before making this decision, a business should carefully weigh pros and cons of trade secrets.
The advantages of trade secrets include:
The disadvantages of trade secrets include:
The patent attorneys at The Plus IP Firm help businesses and innovators understand what type of intellectual property is best suited for a product, process or an idea. The patent attorneys at The Plus IP Firm have helped numerous clients develop goods and services to increase their market share in highly competitive markets. To schedule a free consultation, click HERE. For more information about Derek Fahey, this article’s author, click HERE.
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