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Shhh: 10 Make-or-Break Trade Secrets

4. WD-40

When Norm Larsen invented WD-40 in 1953, he was looking for a compound that would protect Atlas rockets from rust. The ultimate creation, Water Displacer-40th attempt, has never been patented; the company, like Coca-Cola, wants to protect its formula from the prying eyes of competitors. A few years after he started selling WD-40 directly to consumers, Larsen sold the recipe along with the rest of his company for $10,000. Today, the distinctive spray, with thousands of uses, is used by an estimated 80% of all American homes.

(iStock Photo)

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