Welders and other workers at The Roberts Co. in Winterville, N.C.--part of this year’s FAB 40 list of successful contract fabricators--are used to signing secrecy agreements from customers. Dave Staskelunas, the company’s vice president of fabrication services, said that more and more customers are requiring workers to keep quiet as they weld and form proprietary materials or designs. These designs aren’t patented, either. The risk of someone else coming out with the idea is probably less than someone outright stealing it during the drawn-out patent application process.
As a recent Bloomberg article aptly put it, the U.S. patent system “gives inventors a limited monopoly on their ideas in exchange for revealing them to the world so that others can build on them.”