A Guide Through the Legal Jungle Trivia Question
The “secret ingredient” in Coca-Cola is a popular American mystery and has been carefully and successfully kept under-wraps. Why has Coca-Cola chosen to keep this ingredient as a trade secret instead of applying for a patent?
- Applying for a patent is too expensive.
- A patent would allow exclusive use of the ingredients for only a limited period of time.
- Keeping it a secret increases Coca-Cola’s popularity.
- The ingredient is a controlled substance, and Coca-Cola would rather not release that information.
The correct answer is B. Assuming the Coca-Cola formula is eligible for patent protection, receiving a patent for the ingredient would reveal the identity of the secret ingredient to the public, and exclusive use of the ingredient would only be granted to Coca-Cola for a limited period of time. When the patent expires, any competitors would be able to recreate Coca-Cola. By keeping the secret ingredient a trade secret, the recipe for Coca-Cola can potentially remain a mystery indefinitely.
(Thanks to Colleen Mulcrone, 2009 JD Candidate, American University, Washington College of Law, for contributing this trivia question.)