Patents and trade secrets are often considered economic substitutes. Under this view, inventors decide either to maintain an invention as a trade secret or to seek a patent and disclose to the public the details of the invention. However, several scholars have recognized that because the patent disclosure requirements are not always rigorous, inventors may sometimes be able to keep certain aspects of an invention secret, yet still receive a patent to the invention as a whole. Here, we provide further insight into how trade secrets and patents may act as complements. Specifically, we introduce the concept of “data-generating patents,” which refer to patents on inventions involving technologies that by design generate valuable data through their operation or use. We contend that the use of patents and trade secrets as complements in this manner may sometimes yield socially harmful results, and we make several recommendations to mitigate such effects.