Do you need a Trade Secret or a Patent?

July 6, 2018
Tyler Lindley

What exactly is the difference between a patent and a trade secret? When should you obtain each? The following provides a brief overview of the pros and cons of each. You may already be familiar with the following definitions:

PatentPatents are used to protect new inventions or novel improvements on current inventions. Patents can fall into three different categories:

  1. Utility Patent – A utility patent protects the function or use of a new and useful process, machine, manufactured article, or any composition of matter.
  2. Design Patent – A design patent protects any new, original, or ornamental design.
  3. Plant Patent – A plant patent protects a new variety of plant.

Trade Secrets – Trade secrets protect formulas, devices, methods, etc. that are used in business and that provide an economic advantage to the user over competitors. ( can be an overlap of available protection between patents and trade secrets, and this often provokes questions among investors and business owners. An important question that is asked is whether one should apply for trade secret or patent protection when both are available. Now, let’s look at the pros and cons of:

Filing Patents[table id=1 /]

Using Trade Secrets

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If you have intellectual property that you want protected, you should consult with an attorney. Consider the type of protection that suits your needs as well as the pros and cons associated with both options. Because our legal team at Sumsion Business Law is experienced in protecting intellectual property, we can help you decide which types of protection you qualify for, and which protection—or combination—is best suited for your needs.

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