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Which should be used, a Patent or Trade Secret?

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The answer starts with a question:

Can someone take your product or process and easily reverse engineer it?  That is, can they subject it to analysis and determine exactly how to make or use your idea?  If the invention can be easily reverse engineered, obtaining a Patent should be the way to go.  (The disadvantage of a Patent is that it has a finite life and everything must be fully disclosed, while a Trade Secret is forever, if kept secret.)  If the Trade Secret idea cannot be reverse engineered without great effort or expense, then Trade Secrets would likely be the best way to protect the invention.

Examples:

For the most part, mechanical or electrical devices can be taken apart and based on the interaction of components, can readily be reverse engineered.

Compiled software on the other hand may be difficult to reverse engineer.  Once software code is written, it is easy to copy, but compiling it provides an operational program that is different from the underlying code.  While someone can easily see the output results of running a compiled program, to write their own software may be very costly, since they don’t know the actual code steps that were used to make the program.

 

For more information on intellectual property, please visit Patent, Trademark, Copyright Information.

The content of this article is not intended to be, and does not constitute, legal advice and does not create attorney-client privilege. Consult the attorney of your choice before embarking on any legal matter or any document preparation/filing.

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C2008, Williamson Intellectual Property Law, LLC; all rights reserved, world-wide.

Dr. Thomas R. (Terry) Williamson III is a Patent Attorney practicing in Atlanta, Georgia.

C2008, Williamson Intellectual Property Law, LLC; all rights reserved, world-wide.

Williamson Intellectual Property Law, LLC
1870 The Exchange, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30339
770-777-0977
http://www.trwiplaw.com
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Williamson Intellectual Property Law, LLC
1870 The Exchange, Suite 100 - Atlanta, Georgia 30339