Trademark vs Patent: Which One Is Right for You?

Trademark vs Patent: Which One Is Right for You?

A trademark helps in protecting a name, symbol, design, word, or logo used to represent the manufacturer of the goods. The property rights for a new product are given to an inventor with the help of a patent. This way it prevents others from making any product that looks identical. There are companies out there who avail Patent Services USA to make use of both patent and trademark for protecting intellectual property. However, one must not use these terms interchangeably.

Trademark vs. Patent

The only difference between a trademark and other legal protections is that it only covers a single mark. The protection may cover a logo, phrase, symbol but it doesn’t cover the owned products manufactured by a company. Unless and until the goods and services are patent protected they can easily be cloned by any other company.

It is a good idea to file for trademark protection for the logo or design of your company as it eliminates any sort of chaos or confusion for your users. Users should feel at ease while shopping for your brand in a way that they can easily pick your product. In the absence of a trademark, there are chances that someone might copy your logo to create a similar one resulting in declining your brand loyalty.

Getting trademark protection abstains others from copying, using, producing, or profiting from it. In case they do, you have all the legal right to sue them for damages. The damages include the profits lost during the time when the other individual or company sold products or services under a similar logo or design. You have bright chances to win the case if you prove that the similarity caused confusion among consumers. There are some famous trademarks, for example, McDonald’s “Golden Arches”, Nike’s “Swoosh” symbol, and Coca-Cola’s famous logo.

The minimum requirements to qualify for a trademark are lenient as compared to the requirements to file for a patent. If you ever wonder, how to patent a business idea, you can avail of patent-related assistance from Patent Services USA.

Now, let’s talk about patents. A patent on the other hand protects an invention as it helps in restricting others from making or selling similar products. When the patent term ends the idea again becomes unprotected and anyone can use it. The patent term depends on the type. 

Type of Patents

There are primarily three types of patents – Utility, Design, and Plant. Let’s discuss them one by one:

#1. Utility Patents

Out of the three patent types, a utility patent is the most common one. In fact each year you get more than 90% of the applications alone for the utility patent in the USPTO office. The utility patent issued by USPTO is only for those inventions that are both new and not obvious as compared to the products that are existing and known. For example,

There are the following statutory categories to qualify for a utility patent:

  • ·         Machine
  • ·         Process
  • ·         Manufacture
  • ·         Matter Composition
  • ·         Any useful and new improvement

There are two options while filing a utility patent – a provisional patent application or a non-provisional patent application. The USPTO will not examine the provisional patent application and therefore will not issue as a utility patent till the time a corresponding patent application (non-provisional) is timely filed within one year on the date of provisional filing. One important thing here to mention is that you can claim patent pending status for the invention mentioned in the application while your provisional patent application is on file.

As soon as you have filled the non-provisional application a patent examiner will be assigned to you by USPTO who performs the duty of examining your application. Just be aware that this process is lengthy and takes time for up to 2 or 3 years. A utility patent carries a term of 20 years from the earliest filing date and you have to pay the maintenance fees at the regular intervals of 3.5 years, 7.5 years, and 11.5 years from the date of issuance. Avail Patent Services USA if you don’t know how to patent a business idea.

#2. Design Patents

Design patents help in covering the ornamental/aesthetic features of an invention. Say, for example, the non-functional shape and design of a PC mouse can be a valid subject for a design patent application as long as that particular shape is new and non-obvious. Compared to utility patents, design patents are often easier to obtain. There is no such set pattern to file for a design patent. However, applicants are needed to file clear and detailed drawings to the USPTO.

It must contain all the relevant information regarding the invention. In some cases, you are allowed to submit black and white pictures instead of drawings. This scenario is only applicable when you have pictures as the only medium to illustrate the invention. The term of design patents from the date of issue is 15 years and you need to pay any maintenance fees.

#3. Plat Patents

Being an inventor, you can apply for a plant patent if you have invented and reproduced a new variety of plants. The process of reproducing the new variety must be “asexual” which implies not being grown from seed but created through another process like budding, rooting, or grafting. The plant should be unique and exclusive.

A popular example is the Honeycrisp apple created by researchers of the University of Minnesota was covered under a plat patent. Plant patents are not as common as design and utility patents. There is a very small percentage of plant patents issued every year by the USPTO.

It usually takes a period of 2 years or more in order to get approval from the USPTO as the4 examination process required for a plant patent is usually extensive. As far as the duration is concerned, it is similar to a utility patent. A plant patent will live for 20 years from the earliest date of filing.

Deadline

For filing a trademark, there is no fixed deadline. However, the application’s filing date for a trademark with the USPTO office is very crucial. The date helps USPTO in deciding who files the application first in case two people file for a trademark for something similar. If you delay filing for a longer period then someone else might file for the same mark/design/logo.

A patent doesn’t carry a deadline. An application must be filed with the USPTO within 12 months of introducing your invention publically. The public introduction could be done via print media or a trade show. If you fail to submit the application within the 12 months period, you cannot patent your idea anymore.

The patent filing procedure has a loophole in it. The standard application is confined to a non-provisional patent and the term for this is 20 years. In case you couldn’t do it, you have the option to file a provisional patent application. By this, you get extra 12 months to work on the non-provisional application.

Provisional patents are not granted by USPTO. The purpose of filing this application is to extend the timeframe. Patent Services USA is ready to provide you hassle-free assistance. After submitting your non-provisional patent application, you can use the words, “patent pending” on your product/service.

Who Wins – Patent or Trademark?

There is nothing like who wins as each of them carries their own significance. You must know clearly whether your business qualifies for a patent or a trademark or both. You must not get confused between patent and trademark because it leads to a waste of time, money, and effort. Filing a patent application generally takes a longer period as compared to filing for a trademark.

Therefore, in the end, it is correct to say that having a unique logo, symbol, phrase or design qualifies for trademark protection, whereas on the other hand, a product, a design on a manufactured item, or a plant qualifies for filing a patent. We hope that this article will be of some help to you and if you didn’t know how to patent a business idea or how to trademark a design and what is the eligibility criteria, now you know. You can also contact us directly to know better.

 

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