Some inventions actually are dogs. You’ve met the dog I’m talking about. It’s that big, friendly, in-your-face, social charmer who wants — nay, needs — to be the center of attention. They wear their hearts on their shoulders (dogs don’t generally wear sleeves) and you know exactly what this dog … of whatever breed … is thinking.
A dog-invention is one that, once introduced, you can reverse engineer. You know what it’s made of, and you know what it does. It becomes clear from tinkering with the invention just exactly how the invention works.
A dog-invention is something you need a patent to protect. You cannot protect a dog-invention in any other way. For a patent to issue, the best mode of making and using the invention must be disclosed at the time of filing the application for patent. No problem! The dog-invention’s best mode is disclosed when you publish the dog-invention to the world. You can’t hide it; its very nature is to be a big, friendly, in-your-face invention.
Some inventions are cats. You’ve met the cat I’m talking about. It’s that shy, skittish kitty that hides from the world and watches with distrustful eyes as you try to tease it out of its spot. The very last thing it wants in the world is to be the center of attention. It is the diametric opposite of a friendly dog. It is secretive.
A cat-invention can also be protected by patent, but we need to remember that a patent is an exercise in disclosure, which is the diametric opposite of this cat-invention’s nature; for a patent to issue, the best mode of making and using the invention must be disclosed in the application … which is then published to the public. We also need to remember that a patent’s enforceability is finite; it expires, at most, 20 years from the date you file the application. This cat-invention might be happier, and its profitability could potentially last much longer, if you simply keep it as a trade secret and let it do what cat-inventions do — hide from the world, watching with distrustful eyes as others try to tease it out.
ATTRIBUTION: The dog photo is a free download from pexels.com (since I don’t have a dog); the original filename is pexels-pixabay-97082.jpg. The cat is a photo of of my class-clown-cat, Linus.