When an entity decides to protect its intellectual property by keeping it under wraps instead of seeking a patent, that's known as a trade secret. The problem with a patent is that in order to get one, you have to publicly declare your invention to the world. If your patent is granted, you'll have the legal means to protect it, but this can be costly. Not only that, the information released in a patent application can help competitors make their own innovations, by inspiring them and furthering their knowledge.
Reasons of this kind are why the owners of the following trade secrets have decided to keep them as such – the risk of trying to protect them any other way is too high. Here are four of the world's most famous trade secrets.
1. Coca-Cola formula
Since creation of the Coca-Cola recipe in 1886, the company has decided to keep the formula for the refreshing drink a secret. The formula is currently held in a bank vault in Atlanta, where only two executives at the company know how to get in.
2. KFC 11 herbs and spices
KFC's "Secret Recipe of 11 Herbs and Spices" is well known for being finger-licking good. What's not well known, however, is what exactly those 11 herbs and spices are. Like the Coca-Cola recipe, the written version is stored in a safe somewhere, and only a select few employees know the recipe at anyone time. Those that do are bound by confidentiality agreements. While there's much speculation as to what the recipe actually is, some have speculated some of the chickens distinctive flavour comes from the patented pressure-fried method used to cook it.
It's probably safe to say WD-40 is the world's best known household lubricant. The digits in its name stand for "Water Displacer – 40th attempt". The formula is so heavily guarded that it's mixed in three different cities around the world, before being given to the manufacturers.
4. Google search algorithm
The search algorithm that helps you find everything has been a trade secret since it was first developed. While part of the reason is to keep Google's competitors at bay, a good portion comes down to stopping people gaming the system – if everyone knew exactly how it worked, people would just do whatever they could to get to the top, instead of the most relevant results making their way there.
If you're unsure as to how you should protect your intellectual property, get in touch with Alder IP today. We can advise you on what the best course of action is for protecting your innovations.