Businesses typically choose between patents and trade secrets in safeguarding new inventions or innovations. Many consult intellectual property advisors for guidance in protecting their creations. One extensive choice is whether to get a patent or keep things secret. Both provide legal protection, but they differ in several key ways.  Here are the differences between patent protection and trade secrets;

 patent protection

1. Duration of Protection

The protection duration differs for patents and trade secrets. Patents are a way to use, produce and even sell what you have invented for some time. Trade secrets allow you to create and sell what you have made permanently as your own. Unlike patents with a fixed duration, this offers a timeless method for safeguarding innovations.

2. Public Disclosure

A significant difference between patents and trade secrets is about telling people. Patents need detailed info about the invention to be shared in a public way through a patent application. This makes the information public but also means losing some exclusivity. On the flip side, trade secrets thrive on being secret. No public sharing is needed, keeping the owner in control of who knows what.

3. Protection Scope

The range of protection is another area where patents and trade secrets differ a lot. Patents cover a wide area, protecting against any unauthorized use of inventions. This is even if someone else came up with the same thing independently. On the other hand, trade secret protection only stops people from wrongly getting, using, or telling others about the secret. It allows others to come up with the same thing on their own.

4. Reversibility

Thinking about change, patents and trade secrets have different paths. Once a patent is given, it’s there for everyone, and the protection can’t be returned. When the patent ends, the invention becomes public. In contrast, keeping a trade secret safe can lead to losing protection. But the cool part is that it can be turned around, and if the secret still needs to be public, it might still get patented.

5. Cost and Requirements

Lastly, the cost and what you must do to get protection differ for patents and trade secrets. Getting a patent can be expensive and takes a long time. It needs to tell a lot about the invention. On the other hand, keeping a trade secret is more practical. It involves using simple methods to keep the information secret, like agreements not to tell and limiting who can know.


Patent protection and trade secrets have many differences depending on various factors. These include the nature of the invention, the ease of reverse engineering, and the desired duration of protection. Both of them have merits, and they also have adverse effects. If you have a business, consider what you need first and whether it will help you. Whether going for the long time of patents or the forever secret of trade secrets, it’s crucial to consider these differences. Seeking advice from an intellectual property consultant can be super helpful in making the right decision. It can help ensure that what you choose fits the unique needs of your creation.