Hopper, G.S (2006, April 1). Protecting Business Method Innovations: Patents Aren't the Only Way, Netanium Strategic Consulting, LLC. From, http://www.netanium.com/trade_secrets.html
When we see commercials or products on a shelf, you know that someone at either their home garage or a large corporation came up with the idea. Many products that we buy will have a symbol or a term that says patent pending. This means that the person or company has filed for a patent but it has not been issued yet. It can take up to four years to receive the patent status and most are very expensive. It’s not uncommon for a patent to cost up to $15,000 for a U.S. patent and over a quarter-million for international protection. There is another way that a number of companies are using to bypass patents and it’s called trade secrets. A trade secret is exactly that, a secret that usually contains confidential information about a company’s product, formula, plans, designs, software or know-hows. Trade secrets are considered forms of property and can be sold. If you look at how fast computer software and cell phone technology changes, then waiting for a patent doesn’t make sense, because by the time a patent is awarded the item is usually out-dated. Another reason many companies use trade secrets is that there is no duration, meaning that it never expires. Patents on the other hand have a shelf life of twenty years, plus you have to disclose your means of building the item. A trade secret is good as long as the item is kept secret. Companies usually have attorneys draw Non-Disclosure Agreements for employees and partners and usually state termination or harsher punishment for leaked secrets. Business method patents are really hard to enforce and have only been allow in a court of law since the late 1990’s, which drives home the reason more companies are using trade secrets instead. It all depends on what you are protecting, if the product is something that...
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