Protection of an invention
The core of an invention may be protected in primarily one of two ways; registration of a patent or through confidentiality. These two methods are the antithesis of each other. The patent process involves disclosing the invention to the world (via the local intellectual property office) in return for a statute-backed monopoly in the invention. Conversely confidentiality means not disclosing it at all, or only under carefully crafted agreements, and relying on the hope that no-one else will stumble upon the same invention.
There are pros and cons with each approach, for instance a patent only lasts for a set period of time whereas confidentiality can last forever. Patents also guard against a third party having the same idea at some time later, whereas confidentiality does not offer any protection against a third party having the same idea.
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