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Difference Between Trademarks and Patents

Trademark Vs Patents

It is often that patents and trademarks can be confused for they both deal with concept of intellectual property. Furthermore, they also are regarded as industrial property, in the context that both patents and trademarks are used commercially.

A trademark refers to the use of a name, symbol, signature, image, or devise that used in terms of differentiating a product from others by indicating its origin or manufacturer. A patent refers to an invention that grants a set of particular rights to the creator or inventor of the product or item.

In other words, a trademark refers to the brand name of a product, while a patent refers to the invention of a product. Though a patent and trademark may often be seen as one in the same, there exists substantial differences.

A trademark, under protection by law, can prevent others from using a similar mark that may confuse consumers and create the potential for the purchase of a product that is not what they are actually paying for.

For example, Pepsi began to market its product in the same red color that Coca-Cola bottles use. Herein lies another key factor: trademarks do not prevent others to produce and market a similar product; they only thing they may not use is similar mark associated with that type of product already being used.

Coca-Cola uses its trademarked script logo on a red background, while Pepsi uses a blue background and its trademarked tri-colored circle.

Patents, on the other hand, give the right to its owner to prevent others from making, using, selling, or importing a particular invention. Patents granted in the United States have a term of twenty years from the date that the patent application was filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Furthermore, a patent in the United States is only good within the United States, and its territories; U.S. patents do not have validity on an international level.

Patents and trademarks also differ because, while a patent has an expiration date, trademarks are virtually endless, for they can be renewed for as long as the trademark owner plans on using the mark and pays the instated renewal fees.

Conversely, patents and trademarks differ because a patent does not need the continuous involvement or participation by its owner, where as a trademark is liable to have its registration revoked if it is not used continuously or is "abandoned." Though there may be circumstances in which a patent and trademark can be applied to a singular invention or product, it is generally recommended that if a particular item should be patented rather than trademarked.

A patent allows for the commercial viability and success of an invention because, once registered, no competitive markets may produce the same product or invention; a trademark simply denies others the use of the particular mark associated with the product, but it is not restricted to produce the same item, as long as a different trademark is employed. In other words, trademarks can only provide for brand name exclusivity, not product exclusivity.

NEXT: Trademark vs. Copyright

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