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Rocket Patent Strategies

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Document pages: 38 pages

Abstract: The rapidly evolving body of rocket technology is spurring on a variety of new intellectual property (IP) strategies within the launch industry. Traditionally, innovative rocket technologies have been zealously protected with patents. However, industry firms are now increasingly using trade secrets to protect proprietary technical information. Further, developments in reusable rocket technology are disrupting the launch industry, creating room for new firms to enter the growing market. Two such firms, SpaceX and Blue Origin are establishing themselves as the new industry leaders, while deploying apparently diametrically opposed intellectual property strategies. The chaotic evolution of the patent system has changed the way in which companies protect proprietary technologies, data, and information. Indeed, Blue Origin maintains a robust and growing patent portfolio, while SpaceX has not been awarded a single patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Instead SpaceX utilizes trade secrets to protect its rocket technology. This article explores and explains the underlying causes of the trend toward trade secret protection in the launch industry. Further, this article is the first to explore increasingly complex IP strategies through the lens of the launch industry, focusing specifically on SpaceX and Blue Origin’s battle over reusable rocket technology.

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