By F. Donald Paris
Deciding how to protect proprietary information can be a difficult decision without having the knowledge to help select the appropriate protection for your technology. The choice can be even more challenging if the person making the decision is not aware or familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of the protection methods available. As with most aspects of life, personal and business … choices must be made. And that choice is best made only when the decision maker has knowledge of the implications of his or her decision. Following in tabular form is a comparison of the pros and cons of protecting proprietary information by patents or trade secrets (often referred to as confidential know-how or information). The guidelines identify major items to consider in deciding whether to protect proprietary information by trade secrets or U.S. patents. This material will assist in making decisions with regard to the method of choice for protecting technology.
I. Protection of Proprietary Information by Maintaining Information as a Trade Secret
II. Patent Procurement in the United States