Having a great idea that can evolve into a business is a fragile thing until there is a critical mass in cash flow to sustain the business growth. Intellectual property can help protect your innovations while your business develops and can also help you secure market position and generate revenue. But building a strong IP portfolio to protect your ideas requires thorough documentation and a coordinated strategy. Recent changes to the USPTO procedures for challenging patents make it even more imperative to carefully select what ideas to protect and what type of intellectual property will best safeguard your ideas. Patents allow you to exclude others from practicing your claimed invention for up to 20 years, but require detailed disclosure and thus teach everyone what you are doing. A trade secret is an alternative to a patent that can potentially protect your innovations indefinitely as long as they remain secret, but cannot protect you from reverse engineering or independent invention by a competitor. Developing a strong IP portfolio that effectively protects your core business requires careful planning and strategic decision-making.
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