Are there any other ways to protect an Idea, other than getting a patent? How? 7 Answers as of May 18, 2015

Are there any other ways to protect an Idea, other than getting a patent?

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Gerald R. Black, Esq.
Gerald R. Black, Esq. | Gerald R. Black
If you try to skimp and the technology has great value, it will be difficult to remedy the situation down the road. The utility patent has always been the crown jewel for protecting technology. Sometimes, an inventor can obtain a utility patent and a design patent for related inventions. However, there is no common law protection for an invention (unlike trademarks protection for marks and copyright protection for authored works). In some instances, trade secret protection is of considerable value. The forms of protection are not separate and distinct, and there is oftentimes considerable overlap and several different forms of protection should be used. If you have the resources and the technology is of sufficient value, it is recommended that you consider applying for any and every form of protection that is applicable to deter your competition. It is recommended that you consult an attorney and map out a plan to protect your technology.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 5/18/2015
Eminent IP, P.C.
Eminent IP, P.C. | Paul C. Oestreich
You have basically two options to protect an idea, patent law or trade secret law. If the subject matter of your idea is capable of being kept a secret, you may wish to simply keep your idea a secret. The advantage of trade secret protection is that you are not limited on how long you can keep your idea secret by law. Under patent law, you must fully disclose your invention/idea and tell other how to practice your idea in exchange for your 20 year from filing date monopoly, *i.e.*, your patent rights that allow you to exclude others. After your patent expires, the public is free to use your idea. The difficulty with trade secret law is that if someone stumbles on you idea of their own accord, or reverse engineers your "trade secret" they are free to do so. But, trade secrets do work, *e.g.*, the formula for Coke is perhaps the most famous trade secret. However, extraordinary lengths are taken to protect the secret formula for Coke. If your Idea becomes obvious and no longer a secret the moment you publicly commercialize it, you should instead consider patent law if the idea is patentable. As always you should consult a patent attorney to fully discuss your situation and how best to protect your idea.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 5/12/2015
Webb IP Law Group
Webb IP Law Group | Jason P Webb
Other than trade secret protection, which is often not available, there is no substitute for a patent. The other forms of protection (copyright, trademark, etc.) protect different things in different ways.
Answer Applies to: Utah
Replied: 5/12/2015
Microtechnology Law & Analysis | Daniel Flamm
An idea is not the same thing as an invention. Your question is too broad to answer well here, but generally, what one can protect is termed intellectual property (IP). IP includes patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. If your questions is academic. please read a book on the subject such as one of the many IP books from Nolo Press. If you have an actual present issue, you should seek advice from an IP attorney.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/11/2015
Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
The expression of an idea, such as a book, drawing, diagraph, sculpture, TV show, song, etc., is protected by copyright law. Trade secret laws protect formulas, manufacturing processes, supplier lists, sources of materials, etc. as long as you meet the requirements to keep the information completely secret.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 5/11/2015
    Law Office of Kirk Buhler
    Law Office of Kirk Buhler | Kirk A Buhler
    "idea" is generally not a tangible thing. Like, I have idea, let's go to the movies. This is not particularly tangible, until it is reduces to practice like. Let's get in the car and drive to the theater on Magnolia Avenue and watch the Avengers movie that starts at 8 PM tonight. You might try for a copyright or trademark, they are not patents.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/11/2015
    Barton Barton & Plotkin
    Barton Barton & Plotkin | Maurice Ross
    Our intellectual property laws do not protect mere ideas. Patents do not protect ideas. They protect tangible inventions (usually involving use of complex technology). Copyright law does not protect ideas-it protects works of art, music, film, theater-etc. Ideas are a dime a dozen and our laws do not protect them. We reward the persons who do the hard work of converting good ideas into commercially viable products or works of art, science, music, film etc. Thus, the answer is no.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/11/2015
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