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Software Scan

The President's Column

You've just invented something great. Should you patent it, thereby getting the strong legal protection offered by the government but also describing it for all of your competitors or should you keep it secret? I get this question a lot, so in this month's Scanning IP section I discuss the tradeoffs between patents and trade secrets.

Do you have a great new algorithm, methodology, or research project? We want to help you develop it. In the Scanning Ideas section, I talk about the new research program for students and teachers. See the details below for information about applying to the SAFE research program.

Send me your comments and critiques. I'm always interested in hearing from you.


Bob Zeidman
President, SAFE Corporation

Scanning IP

Trade Secrets vs. Patents

When you have a useful invention should you file for a patent or maintain it as a trade secret? A comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of patents and trade secrets are given in the table below.



Trade secrets

Public or private?

Public. A patent can be kept secret for 18 months after it is filed, after which it must be published.

Private. Trade secrets must never be made publicly available.

Owner�s legal action

Easier. The government has put its stamp of approval on the invention.

Harder. The owner must prove that the invention qualifies as a trade secret and that the defendant did not independently invent it.


High. There is a significant cost to �prosecute� a patent, which includes the attorney costs, filing costs, and costs to address all patent office rejections and actions.


Protection from theft

Harder. The invention is described in detail to the public.

Easier. The invention is kept secret.


Limited. The government grants rights for 17 to 20 years after which anyone can produce the invention.

Unlimited. As long as the invention is kept secret.


Restricted. The owners are only the patent holders who are on record with the patent office.

Unrestricted. If the invention is created independently, any number of inventors and owners can exist.

Advanced Tools to Detect Software Plagiarism and IP Theft

A sophisticated set of tools for analyzing software source code and object code including:

Check binary object code for plagiarism.

Cross check source code for plagiarism.

Compare source code to find differences and measure changes.

The premiere tool for pinpointing copying.

Scour the Internet for plagiarized code.

Turbo charge your analysis on a supercomputer grid.

Get Smart

SAFE offers training at our facility or yours. Contact us to make arrangements:

MCLE credit in software IP

CodeSuite certification

Your New Office

Remember that you can now have your own secure office at the SAFE facility for storing proprietary software, running CodeSuite, analyzing the results, and getting onsite support. We're located at

20863 Stevens Creek Blvd.
Suite 456
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 517-1167

Scanning Ideas

Looking for Great Ideas

There are a lot of unanswered questions about source code, and we want to work with you to figure them out. We realize that currently accepted algorithms for analyzing, comparing, and measuring source code leave a lot to be desired in many cases. Also, there are a lot of techniques that have never been studied on large bodies of modern code. For example, measurement techniques developed in the 1970s were probably tested on assembly languages and older programming languages like BASIC, FORTRAN, and COBOL. Do they still hold on modern object oriented languages like Java and C#??

If you have a research idea relating to code analysis, and you can use the SAFE tools, let us know. Email Larry Melling, VP of Sales and Marketing with your ideas. If they pass our review process you'll get free licenses to our tools, free support, and help getting your results published. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

This newsletter is not legal advice. Views expressed herein should be checked for accuracy and current applicability.
Copyright 2009 Software Analysis & Forensic Engineering Corporation