Most startup founders know that protecting the unique processes and technologies of their company is essential to being successful. However, not many founders know the correct strategy to protect their IP. A strong intellectual property strategy which shows a clear direction of your startup minimizes risk for investors and increases your business’s value. Of the four major Intellectual Property types, trade secrets and patents can both protect your company’s unique technologies and processes. However, both have different effects on your company’s future.

Companies choose trade secrets over patents for three main reasons:

  • to avoid the costly patenting process
  • to avoid disclosing company technologies through patent publications
  • take advantage of trade secret protection for a period longer than the period for patent protection, which is 20 years.

However, trade secrets have considerable risks:

  • have much weaker protections than patents. 
  • does not protect you from competitors that independently develop your technology
  • your major competitor can patent the same invention and sue your company for infringement

Now that the US is switching to a first-to-file versus a first-to-invent system, the fact that your company invented the technology first will have less bearing in a patent lawsuit. In addition, the common adage is that a secret is no longer a secret once two people know about it. Though trade secret law allows you to go after employees who leak confidential information or companies that steal your technology, the costs of concealing your technology may end up being more than patenting in the first place.

To learn more about Creating a Competitive Advantage with Intellectual Property visit