Evergreening, Trade Secrets Style


If you can evergreen with patents, why not with trade secrets too?

In the patent world “evergreening” is a strategy of filing additional patent applications over time to ‘extend’ the patent protection of a valuable core technology. The pharmaceutical industry is the most well-known user of evergreening, although the mobile phone industry is rapidly adopting this strategy as well.

Of course, you can’t indefinitely extend the life of an original patent. The patent term is limited to 20 years from the first non-provisional filing date. There are limited extensions available, such as patent term adjustment and patent term extensions for qualified patents. These are usually measured in days or months, or maybe a few years if lucky. You can’t file a second patent application on the same thing you patented years before.

Patent owners will file additional but patentably different applications to extend coverage. They will look for new uses, improved manufacturing methods, better formulations, and so on to protect. Once the original patent expires, the owner still has coverage for all the subsequent improvements.

But wait, all improvements and modifications made after the patent filing are trade secrets (because they’re not disclosed in the patent application).

As part of Tangibly’s trade secret management program, you can protect all the optimizations, improvements, and so on that are developed after filing the core patent application. Use both patents and trademarks.

At Tangibly, we always talk about patents AND trade secrets, not OR. Be creative in evergreening your patents using trade secrets!

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