If you have made an electronic product with a new circuit or code and need to protect it, then these are some Methods. If your Intellectual Property is an Idea, A Hardware Innovation or Software Application; It may need some protection other than patents. Sometimes patents are used for general applications and generic designs. Patent only an Original Idea or Innovation or an Exclusive and Unique Method.
If you are small and the innovation very big, tie up with established companies with reputed brands. If you are a source for a certain product component or module, make certain restriction on patenting products made from it. Else, your Module or Application Sales may be jammed by Panic Patents.
That is the reason, the Platform that fosters innovation is Open Source.
Use for digital logic area, an atmel uC with security bit protection or any uC-uP with internal memory read protected with security bit. the firmware should be kept in tight control from both external people and your employees and must be on a non-networked and non-internet machine.
2. Hermetically seal –
This is a crude and ancient way, delete the chip part numbers and pot it in a plastic can with ciba araldite epoxy with alumina filler, this way product may not be copied and it will be immune to vibration and corrosive environment. but heat dissipation and serviceability is affected, so make a epoxy potted module of only some part of the circuit.
3. Make ASIC or FPGA –
ASIC is only for volume production and is copy protected, if you design in-house and the chip maker you order is trustworthy, then this is ok, for small volume production use FPGA, CPLD, DSP uC or uP with read protection as practical.
4. Go open source –
Design a circuit and put it on the internet to share, let the community use it and improve it, here also revenue is made by service of product, custom design and customer support and this will work long term free of tensions. This way has proved to foster greater innovation and stable technologies.
(my dairy log 2002, Amps-n-Volts June 2005, Now logged here – delabs)