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How Should You Protect Yourself: Trade Secrets or Patents?

There are a variety of ways to protect your secrets and inventions, but it helps to understand the difference in how they work. Two of the most popular ways to keep a method or invention safe are trade secrets and patents. Though a trade secret can be kept for an indefinite period of time, it offers limited protection on inventions that might be duplicated legally. On the other hand, a patent offers much more comprehensive protection, but it can only be used for specific inventions. Before consulting a Boston business attorney on how to best protect your methods, it helps to have some background information about both.

When Should You Use a Trade Secret?

Trade secrets allow you to keep systems, methods, and procedures protected and safe from the competition. Typically, a trade secret is protected with methods ranging from non-disclosure agreements to setting up restricted access zones that keeps the public from learning the secrets. The disadvantage of a trade secret is that any invention or product that is available to the public does not receive any protection under this method, meaning that anyone can duplicate it if obtained through legal channels and not bound by a non-disclosure agreement.

When Should You Get a Patent?

The first thing to remember about patents is that if you publicly use your invention or offer it for sale prior to obtaining a patent, then you may lose all patent options. Since a patent applies only to inventions, it offers more protection than you would have under trade secrets. Once you do file and obtain a patent, you obtain a limited monopoly on the product in exchange for complete information about the invention. Ultimately, you should consider filing a patent if you have a product that could be reverse engineered or duplicated in some way.

Sometimes, deciding which road is the best to take can seem like a difficult task. The key is always to go with the route that will protect your methods the longest, allowing you to keep a leg up on the competition for as long as possible. When you find that you have questions about the best ways to protect your secrets and wish to consult with a Boston business attorney to ensure your inventions remain protected, contact Jeffrey Cymrot of Sassoon & Cymrot for individual guidance and consultation.

 

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