A possible scenario you might encounter:
You have conceived and developed an invention. You intend to build your business around it and want to ensure the protection of your intellectual assets. What means of protection should you choose? You understand that this decision is crucial. After all, the viability and the success of your business depends on it.
Should you opt to protect your invention as a trade secret or as a patent?
There are two kinds of Trade Secrets:
- Trade Secrets regarding inventions that do not fulfill the patentability criteria, and as a result, they cannot be protected as patents, but only as trade secrets.
- Trade Secrets regarding inventions that fulfill the patentability criteria and can be protected as patents. In this case, a decision must be made, as these means of protection are incompatible.
Why is trade secret protection incompatible with patent protection?
Very often, inventors seek to protect their intellectual assets, by combining various available means of IP protection. However, they cannot protect their invention as a trade secret and as a patent and this is due to the fundamental difference in their protection mechanism. Their incompatibility consists in the following:
Trade secrets are protected through secrecy, while patents through full disclosure.
Why should you consider trade secret protection?
- Trade Secret protection applies as long as it is not disclosed to the public, while patents are limited in time. In Cyprus, a patent is protected for 20 years from the filing date.
- Trade Secrets provide immediate protection, as they do not have to be approved by Government authorities, as it is the case with patents.
- Trade Secrets do not involve any registration costs, only costs related to ensuring the information remains confidential.
Why should you consider patent protection?
- Trade Secret protection can be lifted, as soon as the invention is reverse engineered. Trade Secret protection does not provide rights for the exclusive use of the invention, and if third parties are able to replicate it, they can use for commercial and other purposes.
- Furthermore, a trade secret may be patented by a third party, that gained access to the confidential information, without violations.
- Last but not least, from a legal perspective, the protection provided by Trade Secrets is significantly weaker than the one, provided by patents.
If you face a similar dilemma, you can get in touch with our IP lawyers, who will be able to clarify the procedure of patent registration and to reply to any questions you may have regarding IP protection in Cyprus and in other jurisdictions.