How Are Trademarks Different From Patents?

Patent law specialists

Patent and trademark attorney services help individuals and businesses to protect their intellectual property. Patents and trademarks are quite different from each other, and from copyrights as well, though all three come under the rubric of intellectual property law. Very simply, trademarks are recognizable signs that indicate the source of a product or a service. Patent law protects inventions or processes by securing their exclusive use for the inventor for a limited period of time. And copyrights protect works of art, which can include books, music, paintings and more.

Trademarks identify products and services
Trademarks have a quite different history from patents. Their origins are traced back to blacksmiths in the Roman Empire, who put their mark on their products to indicate their authenticity and quality. This is very much the same purpose that trademarks serve today. They serve to identify goods and services, and to distinguish them from others.
They also serve, though this purpose is not recognized in law, to assure the quality of a product or service, which is commonly understood as a process of branding. A trademark can be owned by an individual, a business or any legally constituted entity, and it can appear on packaging, advertising and on the product itself. Trademarks pertaining to services, such as car rentals, are called service marks. The process of registering a trademark is complex and trademark attorney services can help on the basis of their detailed knowledge of the laws.

Trademark and patent laws
Trademarks and patent laws are quite different, as are the processes of filling for each. Trademark laws are intended to prevent the unauthorized use of trademarks. They will also not recognize trademarks that are confusingly similar to existing ones. However, intellectual property lawyers will be able to help individuals and businesses to register both trademarks and patents as needed.
The U.S. and Canada also recognize common law trademarks, where trademarks that are in use will be protected, even if they are not registered. However, to ensure full legal protection, trademark attorney services are needed. Patent and trademark laws are limited by country and do not apply globally. They have to be secured for each country where they will be used.

Patents and economic growth
Patents are signs of technological innovation and economic growth. They are used to grant exclusive rights to a new inventions such as a product or a service. They allow the inventor to benefit from their invention. However, they apply for a limited term only, which is 14 years for design patents and 20 years for utility patents. After that period, the invention or technology becomes part of the public domain.

Patents are an indication of the state of the economy, as they are the products of technological innovation. Worldwide, the number of patent applications has been increasing. In 2013, around 2.6 million patent applications were filed worldwide, representing an increase of 9% percent over the number filed in the previous year. In the U.S., the number of patent applications in 2010 was 520,000, double the number filed in 1998. However the U.S. currently ranks ninth worldwide in the number of patents granted per capita. This indicates strong competition from other economies.

As noted above, patents and trademarks must be secured in each country where they are needed. This calls for proficient intellectual property counsel. Patent and trademark attorney services can help individuals and businesses secure and benefit from their intellectual property.