Q: Why is it not possible to maintain at the same time a patent and ensure non-disclosure of confidential information?

1 Lawyer Answer
Kevin E. Flynn
Kevin E. Flynn
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Chapel Hill, NC

A: It is possible to go partway through the process with your proprietary information as a secret. However, if you let the patent application publish or you pay an issue fee to get a granted patent then your information becomes public knowledge. You have patent rights to protect the unauthorized use of your idea.

The patent system requires a trade. You provide enough information on how to make and use your invention as part of the trade for getting a patent. Once your patent expires, then people can use your patent document to teach them how to make and use your invention.

With some clients with certain types of inventions, we push to get a decision from the patent office before we commit to allow an application to publish. If the process does not seem likely to lead to a useful patent, then we abandon the application and retain the idea as a secret.

Unfortunately, many products can be easily reversed engineered so many good ideas cannot be maintained as a secret once you start selling to the public.

If you found this answer helpful, you may want to look at my answers to other questions about patent law are available at the bottom of my profile page at


Kevin E Flynn

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