Sometimes it is best to get a patent for your invention, sometimes trade secret protection is better.
Perhaps the best example of this is Coke’s secret formula, which Coke has never patented but has instead protected by keeping it secret. I spoke about this issue recently to a class of MBA students at Babson College, where we had a lively discussion of what today’s soft drink market would look like if Coke’s formula had been patented and thus had entered the public domain 100 years ago. Would we have more cola choices, or fewer? Check out this article on the advantages and disadvantages of protecting business ideas with patents and trade secrets.