Category

No. Inventions can also be protected by trade secrets if you keep them in secrecy. In some EU Member States, you may file an application for utility models as well as a patent application.

  Patent Utility Model Trade Secret
Advantages
  • exclusive right
  • effective tool against imitators
  • protection up to 20 years, which is generally considerably longer when compared to utility models
  • exclusive right
  • effective tool against imitators
  • lower registration costs when compared to patents
  • no registration costs 
  • protection not limited in time
  • no disclosure required
Disadvantages
  • costs for registration can be high 
  • the invention must be disclosed in the application
  • not available in all countries
  • costs for registration
  • shorter protection than patents
  • not available for all kinds of inventions
  • often not an effective tool for product inventions
  • limited remedies available 
  • not easily enforceable
  • can be patented by others 

Thinking about market strategy, publishing an invention may also be an option for protection, if you do not need to have exclusivity. It is certainly a cheaper option and it has the advantage of blocking others from getting a patent on the same invention. However, take into account that you will be revealing your innovation to possible competitors.