Thursday, March 17 2022   \  Published by SPRUSON & FERGUSON.

A Brief Guide to Navigating The Complexities of Trade Secrets Vs Patent Protection

In the course of developing new products and services, innovative businesses often develop commercially significant inventions. The natural question is then how to protect those inventions for their own use. This can be achieved through the grant of a patent, or by keeping the invention a “trade secret”, with each option having its own specific requirements and advantages.

Keeping the invention as a trade secret requires that the details of the invention are maintained as confidential, and in some circumstances keeping a trade secret may be an appropriate decision for the business.  For example, it has been a strategically sound decision for Coca-Cola to keep its secret formula as a trade secret, which is locked away in a special vault in its headquarters. Other well-known trade secrets include Google’s search algorithms, and KFC’s recipe.  Interestingly, Coca-Cola and KFC’s decision to protect their secret formula as a trade secret has also strengthened their respective trade marks. However, the value in the secret only persists for as long as the information remains confidential, and generally trade secrets do not protect inventions that competitors have been able to discover by reverse-engineering. Read more


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