However, ideas donít have to be patentable or copyrighted to be protectable. For instance, except that practical applications thereof may be patentable, naturally occurring phenomena, laws of nature, mental steps, most printed matter, and mathematical formulas are not protectable under our patent laws. However, if an idea in one of those categories would be helpful or useful to others if known by them, you might be able to receive compensation for your idea by disclosing it to them in confidence under a contract or the express understanding that, if they use the idea or disclose it to others, you will be compensated. Here you are treating your idea as confidential information or a trade secret.
In addition to patent, trademark or copyright protection, trade secret protection may also be available to an individual with an idea. If the idea relates to a process or technique, it is possible that the individual with the idea may be better off keeping the idea confidential and arranging to license or sell his idea as a trade secret.