Are you an inventor or innovator?
You may no even know it yet, but you probably are. Anyone that can come up with a idea, concept, or process can be an inventor or innovator. Although your idea does have to meet a few qualifications, it can potentially be a very valuable idea. Although patenting in Canada is not a super-easy process (or cheap for that matter), it can be a worthwhile one.
The Difference Between a Patent and No Patent
This is a surprisingly simple question to answer, bu it doesn’t get asked enough. Okay, you’ve come up with an idea. Let’s pretend it meets all qualifications for it to be eligible for a patent. What now?
Well, at this point you can contact a patent lawyer and start the process. The process could take upwards of 1 year, and $10,000 to complete, so not exactly painless. Most people however, simply say “Well I just won’t tell anyone!” or “What’s the point then?”. These people don’t understand the essential elements of patent law and it’s advantages.
If you did decide to keep it secret but no patent it, then you would have what is termed a “trade secret”. Trade secrets are actually quite common, Coca-Cola’s recipe is probably the most famous example of a trade secret. However, a trade secret lacks some of the protections that a patent does offer.
If you choose not to patent, and another person independently come up with the same or similar invention, then you are longer the sole holder of the secret. This other person has the same rights to it as you do, even though you came up with it first. If that person chooses to publish what they have independently discovered, then you probably have nothing of value anymore.
The advantage of trade secrets is you don’t have to disclose anything, where as the patent process does force you into disclosure of many things. Of course, to keep a trade secret is also free and easy, so there’s always that.
With this being the main and key difference between a trade secret and patent, it is up to you to decide which is more advantageous for you, or if someone else might conceivably strip your idea of it’s value.