The Innov8rz team had the opportunity to virtually meet with an intellectual property attorney for Thermo Fisher Scientific, Denton McAlister. In this presentation Mr. McAlister explained to the team many things including patents and trade secrets, he explained that patents had to be revealed to the public in order to be approved. Patents only last for 20 years after the filing date, and after those 20 years, anybody can make the object from the patent. However, with trade secrets, they are generally only with the top members of a company. If the trade secret gets leaked, nothing can happen, unless the secret is stolen from the company.
Mr. McAlister used a shoe as an example in order to talk about patents. He explained how a company could patent a pattern for the soul of the shoe. Then the company would have to file for a patent. This process takes 2-3 years, and can repeat many, many times. If the patent gets approved, then an explanation to make the item will be published on the patent site. The patent will then expire 20 years after the filing date. For trade secrets, he used Coca-Cola to explain this. He said that only 2 people in the whole company knew about the secret ingredient, so it is a trade secret. If the trade secret was leaked by one of them, then anybody could make that product. Mr. McAlister explained that the major difference was that patents were protected by the law, but they are temporary and available to the public. However, trade secrets can go on forever depending on how well the secret is kept.
The Innov8rz had many questions for the attorney, such as the question, “How wide is the scope of patents?” He then explained that only a patent is eligible in the country that it was filed in. Afterwards, Mr. McAlister explained the connection between trade secrets and robotics. The Innov8rz team would like to thank Mr. McAlister for taking the time to explain this important concept to the team.