7.1.3 Where each of the protection tools can be used?

From the moment an enterprise has a potentially innovative idea, it is imperative that the idea or concept be treated as a secret. That is to say that the information surrounding the creation of the idea must be protected carefully as a trade secret.1

Not all commercially viable ideas can or will be patented, hence the importance of treating ideas as trade secrets, particularly at the inception stage. For an idea that may result in a patentable invention, the final choice between either the trade secret route or the patent route for protection should be seen as a strategic business decision to be taken at a later stage of development when all the requirements of patentability are met. The choice depends on the nature of the invention, its business potential, the competition, how easy it is to reproduce and the ability of competitors to reverse engineer it from the final product. Whatever the ultimate decision, the idea must initially be protected as a trade secret in order to preserve the option of patenting at a later stage. Even after patenting, a part of the idea may remain an associated trade secret.2

Please stop and think. Do you properly manage your trade secrets? How do you think your marketing strategy can support your trade secret and innovation?

Intellectual property, when efficiently used, is an important tool in creating an image for your business in the minds of your current and potential customers and in positioning your business in the market. IP rights, combined with other marketing tools (such as advertisements and other sales promotion activities) are crucial for:

  • Differentiating your products and services and making them easily recognisable
  • Promoting your products or services and creating a loyal clientele
  • Diversifying your market strategy to various target groups
  • Marketing your products or services in foreign countries3


1 www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2005/04/article_0002.html
2 lbid
3 InnoSupport: Supporting Innovations in SME. 7.1 Intellectual Property Protection Tools. 2005 http://archive.innosupport.net