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The application of Patent and Trade Secret law frequently involves the Electronic Design Engineer, both in his capacity as technical designer and in market research activities. An understanding of patents and trade secret protection is useful to enable the Designer to properly employ the advantages associated with those aspects of intellectual property protection. Frequently the Engineer must confer with in-house or outside legal counsel in the pre- paration of a patent application, or for guidance in the protection of his or his employer's proprietary informa- tion. In many situations, Designers frequently do not appreciate the protection available for significant advancements over the "prior art", or the capabilities of the patent classification system to provide current engineering and marketing information. This paper will provide guidance to the Design Engineer for more fully utilizing the protection and benefits afforded by the patent system and trade secret law.