For technological innovations — for example, machines, compositions, processes, plants, chemicals, software, etc. — patents offer the strongest form of intellectual property protection available. Not only does a patent give its holder the right to exclude others from the invention claimed in it, but patent owners can also monetize their patents through licensing and as leverage for investment. But obtaining a patent is often a long, arduous, and expensive process, and some companies simply do not have the resources to see that process through to completion for each and every innovation they produce. Luckily, there are alternative forms of IP protection available for such innovations, and an Alabama intellectual property lawyer can help you decide which ones are right for you.