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Patent and Trademark: What’s the Difference?

Any businessman or a startup gets to a point where a trademark or a patent becomes a requirement. As these are both intellectual properties (IP), the difference between a patent and a trademark is minute but of great importance which cannot be overlooked. 

Definition of patent

‘Patent’ is defined as the granting of a property right to an inventor by a sovereign authority. The inventor gets exclusive rights of the invention for a specific period of time in exchange for complete disclosure of the invention. It means that the invention cannot be sold, used, or distributed without the patent owner’s permission.

Types of patents

The four types of patent are :

  1. Utility patent
  2. Design patent 
  3. Plant patent
  4. Provisional patent 

Expiration of time limit

Patents do expire after the designated amount of time, and the inventor does not withhold the same power as he or she does before the expiration of the time limit.

The most famous example of patents is Facebook. It has filed for 22 US patents, 11 of which have been used while the rest are still pending to be used in the near future. The first patent application for Facebook was filed in October 2004.

Cost for a patent

A non-provisional patent, more commonly known as the utility patent costs somewhere between $5,000-$15,000. For a patent to be eligible, the invention has to be described and claimed by the inventor in definitive terms.

Definition of a trademark

A trademark is specifically a type of intellectual property that may be a word, phrase, or even a symbol that the company owns to personify the respective brand’s goods and services clearly. You can use a trademark after the US patent and trademark office have registered it.

Types of trademark

The four types of trademarks are :

  1. Arbitrary trademark
  2. Suggestive trademark
  3. Descriptive trademark
  4. Generic trademark

Expiration of time limit 

A trademark in the United States can usually last forever granted it is renewed every ten years and is still being used in its 5th or 6th year. 

All the big companies in the world have trademarked their name and symbol. Few most common examples would be Dior, Mcdonald’s, Coco Chanel, Nike and many other songs and catchphrases.

Cost for a trademark

The usual cost for a trademark starts from $275 to $325. The legal fees vary from case to case.

The main difference between a patent and a trademark

While the patent is a type of intellectual property that prevents people from selling that invention, a trademark protects company names, symbols, or phrases used to identify and classify the company’s goods and services. For a patent, the invention must be new and non-obvious. In contrast, a trademark needs to be distinctive and a proper representative of the respective company’s goods and services.

Patents are protective inventions, whereas trademarks are what branding is at its core. The application to get a patent is typically more detailed as it states the invention and its uses in detail.

To get a registered trademark, a company has to go through a series of steps. As stated earlier, a trademark can last for all eternity provided it is renewed every ten years, whereas a patent is only eligible for a certain, designated amount of time. For both, an attorney or seeking legal help is advised as it is a complex process which is hard to do for a person on its own.

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