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Webinar: Protecting Your Innovation: Deciding Between Trade Secrets and Patents

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October 18, 2023 @ 1:00 pm 2:00 pm

1 Participatory MCLE Credits

Navigating the landscape of intellectual property is crucial for innovators and entrepreneurs. Two primary mechanisms for protecting inventions and ideas are trade secrets and patents, each offering distinct advantages and limitations. The decision between the two hinges on the nature of the innovation, the business strategy, and long-term goals.

Patents provide inventors with a temporary monopoly (usually 20 years) on their inventions, giving them exclusive rights to use, make, or sell the patented invention. This exclusivity comes at a price: detailed public disclosure of the invention. Once the patent expires, others can freely use the invention. Patents are especially beneficial for inventions that can be easily reverse-engineered or copied, as they offer legal protection against unauthorized use.

Trade secrets, on the other hand, protect valuable proprietary information that gives a business a competitive edge. Unlike patents, trade secrets can last indefinitely, as long as the information remains confidential and offers economic value. They require no registration or public disclosure. However, the protection is fragile; if the secret is independently discovered or reverse-engineered, there’s no recourse.

Choosing the right protection is vital. For innovations central to a company’s competitive advantage that can remain concealed (like the Coca-Cola formula), trade secrets might be the route. However, for inventions that can be easily deciphered or have a market life shorter than the patent duration, patenting might be preferable. Understanding the nature of your innovation and aligning it with the right protection strategy is essential for long-term success.

Speakers: Puya Partow-Navid and James McNairy

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Puya Partow-Navid‘s clients need help protecting their intellectual property, which includes patents and trademarks. These clients range from startups to Fortune 100 companies. In most cases, clients approach Puya once they’ve developed a new invention. However, he has worked with clients during various stages of the patent process. Puya guides these clients through the process of obtaining a patent. This includes reviewing patentability searches, drafting the patent application, and prosecuting the patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Puya’s work also includes assisting clients with patent re-examination and reissue, litigation support, infringement analysis, patent validity analysis, freedom to operate analysis, and trademark prosecution and oppositions.

James McNairy leads his firm’s Trade Secrets and Employee Mobility practice. Jim specializes in the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, including matters involving trade secrets, non-compete, computer fraud, unfair competition, and related business tort claims. He has represented Fortune 500 companies in some of their most challenging and significant engagements in these areas. He also provides advice to clients concerning best practices for protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights and addressing restrictive covenants in employment-related agreements and business transactions.

We are committed to accessibility! Virtual events are equipped with closed captioning. To request an in-person accommodation, send us a note at or contact us at 916-516-1760 for assistance.


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