Patent vs. Trademark – What’s the Difference?
In a world with everything at our fingertips and just a click away, it is more important than ever to protect your intellectual property. Patents and trademarks are two different types of intellectual property rights that legally protect your ideas. They protect different subject matter and provide different types of legal rights and protections. Determining which is best for your intellectual property protection will depend on a variety of factors.
What is a Patent?
A patent protects inventions by restricting others from making, selling, or using a product that is like the one you have patented for as long as the patent is in effect. It gives you, the inventor, the monopoly to manufacture, use, and sale of your invention. Patent protection means that you have exclusive control over your big idea and can shut others out of the market.
Types of patents that you can apply for:
Utility patent: A utility patent protects inventions, processes, machines, pharmaceuticals, and electronics. It protects the way something is used and how it works. They last for 20 years from the date you filed your patent application.
Design patent: Design patents protect the ornamental appearance of a product. This includes the shape and configuration of something. In some cases it can protect both the design and ornamentation. For example, you create a new, unique piece of jewelry, you can protect the look or design by filing for a design patent. This patent will protect your design for 14 years from the date the patent is granted.
Plant patent: This patent protects new, asexually produced plants. Plant patents last for 20 years from the date that you filed your patent application.
What is a Trademark?
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies your goods and services and distinguishes your brand from your competitors. A trademark is used for goods while a service mark is used for services. Simply using your name, logo or slogan does give you some level of trademark protection, it is important to consult with a trademark attorney to ensure the protection of your property. “Common law” trademarks are difficult to enforce and only apply to your immediate locality. You can protect your trademark within your state by registering your trademark with the state. However, federal registration is the most far-reaching and strongest protection. This comes from registering your trademark with the USPTO
Trademarks offer protection for items of intellectual property that help to define your brand. Let’s take a look at what can be trademarked:
- Product names and nicknames: Coca-Cola® and Coke®
- Sounds: NBC chimes
- Business Names
- Slogans: Nike’s “Just Do It”
- Color combinations or schemes: the brown of the UPS trucks
- Smells: (yes even smells) Hasbro received a trademark on the Play-Doh scent in 2018
Why Do I Need to Know the Difference Between Patent and Trademark?
Knowing the difference between a patent and a trademark is important to determine which protection to apply for. If you need a trademark, but apply for a patent or vise versa, you have wasted valuable time and money. Patents allow the creator of certain inventions that contain new ideas to keep others from commercially using those ideas without the creator’s permission. Trademarks, on the other hand, only protect names of goods and services, logos, slogans, etc. They strictly identify your brand or goods and services.
Working with an experienced trademark attorney can and will save you valuable time and money. They are able to determine the correct protection that you need. Once you have determined what protection is required for your intellectual property, your attorney will help you navigate the process of applying for that specific protection. Contact us to protect your property.
SecureMark Legal is a dynamic, woman-owned law firm that seeks to take the mystery out of brand protection and really take that aspect of protecting business brands “off your plate” so you can focus on what you do best, running your business. We strive to break everything down for you in easily understandable ways and to really become a partner in your success. We are based out of South Florida, but since trademark and copyright registrations are primarily Federal in nature, we are able to serve clients all across the United States regardless of where your business is based.