Industrial Processes covers a range of technologies. Sometimes the new process allows a previously unknown feature to be provided in a particular product. Frequently the process delivers a product that is similar to prior products but the improved process reduces costs of production such as reduction of processing time, labor, energy use, or waste. Sometimes the change of process increases quality or decreases the variability of the output.
Intentions for industrial processes may not grab the headlines as the improvements are not always understood or even known to the consumer. However, these changes to industrial processes often have a huge impact on the bottom line for a company. While the fictional Willie Wonka may have had a closed factory with a loyal workforce that never left to work for a competitor, modern companies use a collection of sub-contractors and have employees that move from company to company. Corporate customers seek to understand their supply chains and sometimes try to find second source vendors by providing them with requirements to duplicate innovative processes used by existing vendors. Protecting process improvements may be essential to lock in a competitive edge and thus lock in market share or margin. Strategic use of non-publication requests can allow United States patent applications to be a backstop in case a competitor adopts your trade secret (whether by independent convergent evolution or through “help” from one of your ex-employees, vendors, or clients).