Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Published in Cornhusker Economics, 11/28/2007. Produced by the Cooperative Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


Innovations are crucial to the future success of firms, with most products having only a limited life cycle. When innovations occur, the firm must decide the best way to protect their intellectual property; this essentially comes down to keeping the innovation a trade secret or filing for a patent. Teaching students the basics of intellectual property protection is not difficult. Most are familiar with the general concept of patent protection and have some understanding as to why patents are an important tool available to firms and individual innovators. However, an in-depth analysis of the patenting decision making process can be less straightforward. There are several major decisions firms or innovators face that students must contemplate.