RTM - Secrecy, Security, and Sales

Technical innovation involves a fundamental paradox: Inventors want to keep the basic workings of their technologies secret, but the commercial progress and further development of those technologies depends on public exposure. In the past, the patent system has served to balance the demands of secrecy and transparency. But as global competition has increased in recent years, corporations have faced demands that intellectual property (IP) be shared as a condition of entry to new markets—if they haven’t suffered outright theft of their publicly available IP. That environment has boosted innovators’ desire for secrecy about their emerging technologies, leading many to sidestep the patent system altogether. Technology firms increasingly choose to keep the details of their advances entirely out of public view, as trade secrets rather than patents.

 

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Volume 63, Issue 1, January-February, 2020
PERSEPCTIVES: NEWS AND ANALYSIS OF THE GLOBAL INNOVATION SCENE