Patents and Trade Secrets
What are Patents and Trade Secrets?
A patent gives an inventor a monopoly on an idea for a set time period. You must register a patent in order to get protection. If you obtain a patent, no one else can create or use your invention without permission until your patent expires. To get a patent, your idea must be new and inventive. It can be difficult and expensive to register a patent, so sometimes, a trade secret is the better option.
A trade secret is confidential information that you do not want your competitors to know. Unlike patents, there is no expiration date for trade secrets. There is also no application procedure. However, if the secret gets out, you have very limited options for redress. You can bring a claim for breach of confidential information, but others will be free to use the information even if you win your case.
For both patents and trade secrets, it is important to use Non-Disclosure Agreements to protect your idea.