When an inventor has created an innovation, she traditionally patents the idea. Patenting allows her to prevent others from copying her idea for the lifetime of the patent. It also stops a later inventor who conceives of the concept independently from subsequently patenting exactly the same idea then preventing the first inventor by using her own invention.
However, there is certainly another choice for safeguarding an invention without filing for a patent, the choice of secrecy. Using secrecy to safeguard an invention, the how to get a patent on an idea simply does not disclose the facts from the invention by filing a patent application or through publication or any other public disclosure.
Secrecy is an excellent protection if the important invention should not be readily discovered. For example, chemical processes are often challenging to discover even though one knows the composition of the final product. The formulas and processes could be hard to determine, despite expensive experimentation. Similarly, software inventions can not be reverse engineered when they are kept securely protected on the inventor’s own servers.
If another inventor later independently creates and patents the identical invention, the first inventor has a defense against a control of patent infringement due to her prior commercial use of the invention. This defense can be obtained when the original inventor used the invention commercially a least one year prior to the subsequent inventor knwpez filed the patent application or publicly disclosed the invention before patenting the invention. However, when the use was under a year ahead of the subsequent how do you patent an idea filed the patent application, then the original inventor has no prior commercial use defense.
Protecting an invention by keeping it secret is most likely a risky strategy if one’s competitors are pursuing a comparable product development strategy. They could develop the identical invention and apply for protection before an entire year of commercial use has generated the prior commercial use defense. And they are likely to try if one’s own product utilizing the invention is successful. Nevertheless for inventions which are challenging to discover and this one believes competitors will not discover independently soon, secrecy is a superb option.
An inventor choosing secrecy should treat the invention as being a trade secret, limiting the interior dissemination of information regarding the invention and marking the information as secret or confidential. The invention idea also needs to rigorously document the earliest date of commercial use.
The biggest benefit from secrecy is that it never expires. However, valuable secrets tend to be discovered independently and surprisingly quickly by competitors, or they may be leaked or stolen. Competitive advantages do not usually go unnoticed and un-duplicated for very long.