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Say I patent an innovative method or device for creating Cookies. I am in the Food business itself, not device manufacturing.

Suddenly, some competitor appears claiming to use a trade secret method for creating Cookies, stealing my customers. Obviously, I can't prove they use my invention without breaking into their facility.

Now what? Does it even make sense to patent inventions that are not direct-to-market? It feels like I just shot myself in the foot by patenting my idea.

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This sounds like you need legal advice: You essentially know of, or more accurately have good reason to suspect, patent infringement. Presumably you don't even mind it except that they forgot to enter a license agreement with you. Apart from negotiation and mediation, I can only think of litigation to solve such a dispute. A lawyer might know what options you have to possibly place some of the burden of proof on the company you suspect of infringement. Hopefully I am wrong... – pyramids Nov 21 '13 at 9:19
If you are the only user of your idea, it would be wise to keep it a secret for as long as possible. If someone is using your idea but not selling it in a product, getting legal advice for your specific region would be the best you can do. – Louis Somers Jan 25 '14 at 20:37

Thomas Edison tried to sue many early Hollywood studios for using invention of 35mm film (registered on his name in USA, but he's not the inventor of cinema at all), but without big effectiveness and that's why Hollywood was founded near mexican border in Los Angeles - everyone who can be fined by court marshals easily just running through the border and later returns back.

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