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To Patent or Not to Patent?

In a recent BusinessWeek article (Hard Choices), Elon Musk talks about his decision to patent NOTHING having to do with SpaceX. Why? Because, as he put it, “Our competition is the Chinese and Russian governments, against whom patents are unenforceable and can simply be used as a recipe. It’s much better for our technology to be trade secrets.”

This reminded me of something that Chris Moffitt had talked about when I interviewed him for How They Did It. He never patented anything for Rubicon (RBCN) – preferring instead to sink deep teeth into his employees, scientists and engineers. The problem with patenting in Moffitt’s case was that most of his industry was in Japan and China – where they would be perfectly happy stealing it.


About Robert Jordan

Robert Jordan has been launching and growing companies and helping other entrepreneurs do the same for the past 20 years. He has authored book and audio series including How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America (RedFlash Press), featuring 45 leading company founders who've created $63 billion in value from scratch, and How They Did It Nightingale-Conant audio program . His startup, Online Access, the first Internet-coverage magazine, landed on the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies. His newest endeavors are RedFlash, a strategy execution team, and The Association of Interim Executives, which champions interim management as its own global specialty. You can also find Robert on Google+ and Twitter. View all posts by Robert Jordan

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