Difference Between Patent and Trademark: Which Suits Your Products Better?

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Knowing the difference between patent and trademark can help ensure you seek your brand’s proper protection.

This conversation is often explored by several professionals, from artists to large consumer brands.

In this guide, we will get into several critical questions to make sure you are adequately protecting your brand image.

What Is the Difference Between Patent and Trademark?

Discussing the difference between copyright and trademark can help you determine which best suits your products.

Certain types of registration are recommended for specific products and require different application steps.

First, let’s explore the main factors between a patent vs trademark.

What Is a Patent?

Patent law was initially developed to encourage technological innovation and is still used similarly today.

Patents allow inventors to protect their inventions by gaining exclusive rights to their creations.

The term “creations” applies to a wide range of products, including manufactures, processes, machines, and more.

Another unique aspect of patents is that they protect any improvements inventors make with their products.

For example, computer programs are often covered by patents that also include any future upgrades.

You’ll also find that technological inventions are covered by both patents and copyright.

The primary reason companies could seek both patents and copyrights is to have more well-rounded protections.

Copyright law protects items in areas that patents don’t and vice versa.

Let’s use software programs as an example.

With software, the functional elements of the program aren’t covered by copyright, but a patent offers protection.

It’s important to note that obtaining a patent is significantly different than getting a copyright.

Patents feature more complicated documentation, can be expensive to obtain, and are very time-consuming to pursue.

Products Protected By Patents

According to the USPTO, the following can be protected by patents:

  • Technical inventions
  • Chemical compositions
  • Mechanical processes
  • Machine designs

How To Apply for a Patent

Unlike applying for a trademark, obtaining a patent is a far more extensive process.

There are several fundamental steps you’ll have to follow before having your patent approved.

Step 1: Conduct Research

The first thing you’ll have to do before applying for a patent is complete a substantial amount of research.

One of the most important things to focus on is whether your invention has already been disclosed publicly.

You should also consider whether your invention has been disclosed via a foreign agency.

Step 2: Decide on a Type of Patent

Within the general umbrella of patents, there are specific categories inventors need to consider.

Each is recommended for a specific type of product, including:

  • Utility Patents: Used for inventing or discovering new machines, articles of manufacture, processes, or compositions of matter.
  • Design Patents: Useful for individuals who intend to design a new, ornamental, or original design for an article of manufacture.
  • Plant Patent: Ideal for inventors who have discovered or created an asexual new variety of plants.
Step 3: Apply

Applying for a patent is a lengthy process that has several steps.

You’ll need to look at the individual fees for the application, as they can vary based on several circumstances.

For example, small entity applications have a $200 fee affixed to them if filed by hand or by mail.

Depending on the type of patent you’re seeking, you will be required to fill out different types of forms.

Utility and plant patents are sought via a provisional or nonprovisional application.

We recommend that you use the EFS-Web service for filing patent applications, as it’s efficient and cost-effective.

difference between patent and trademark difference between patent and trademark agreement

What Is a Trademark?

Businesses might want to consider a trademark instead of a patent, depending on what they are protecting.

Trademarks are most often used when dealing with phrases, words, symbols, and designs related to a company.

It helps when you have a slogan associated with your business that you want to prevent other companies from using.

When applying for a trademark, you have to prove that the specific logo or slogan is used to conduct business.

However, unlike a patent, applying for a trademark isn’t a necessity for many businesses.

As long as you prove that you’ve used a logo, slogan, or phrase to conduct business, you’re moderately covered.

Trademarks are often recommended in highly competitive industries where intellectual property theft is common.

If you want to have heightened legal protections, it is a great idea to consider registering your mark.

Doing so ensures that you can seek reparations if another company uses your slogan, phrase, or logo.

Products Protected By Trademarks

According to the USPTO, the following products can be protected by registered trademarking:

  • Phrases identifying goods and services
  • Designs identifying goods and services
  • Words identifying goods and services

How To Apply For a Trademark

Applying for a trademark is a relatively straightforward process that requires ample documentation.

Depending on your budget, it can be beneficial to work with a trademark lawyer to assist with your application.

Alternatively, you can consider the following steps to get started.

Before you even consider applying for a trademark, it’s important that you first complete a trademark search.

This process helps ensure that your trademark isn’t previously used or registered by another business.

Trademark searches give your application a higher likelihood of being accepted but are also imperative for ethics.

After all, if your company was to use an already established or registered trademark, you could be open to litigation.

Fortunately, the USPTO has a free-to-use tool that allows you to browse their database for live trademarks.

We also recommend that you consider completing a state-wide and international trademark search.

If you intend to bring your business overseas, you will want to ensure that your branding isn’t used elsewhere.

Also, some companies who don’t seek federal trademark registration could be registered within your state.

Regardless, you won’t be able to use the specific mark if it’s being used elsewhere.

Step 2: Complete a Trademark Application

Every business that wishes to trademark a slogan, phrase, or logo will be required to complete a trademark application.

Within the application, you will need to provide your business information and contact information.

Companies also need to provide reasonable proof that they will use or have been using the specific trademark to conduct business.

You can complete your trademark application through the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) on the USPTO’s website.

Alternatively, you can work with a lawyer who will submit the forms on your behalf and guide you through the process.

Step 3: Allow Time For Processing

The final step to applying for a trademark is to allow for processing time.

Each application is individually reviewed to guarantee that it’s within the guidelines, and your application could be audited.

If it is, you will likely need to provide further information about your business practices.

With an understanding of patent vs trademark, it’s now time to answer how does a copyright differ from a patent?

Answering how does a copyright differ from a patent depends on the products you are working with.

Both can be beneficial, as they help provide a broad net of coverage when encountering legal situations.

Copyrights are most often used with creative products, such as movies, songs, paintings, books, and photos.

It can also be affixed with technical products, like software code or software architecture.

With copyright, the creator of an item is given exclusive rights to profit from their work and reproduce it.

When someone goes through the process of creating an original creative product, copyright is recommended.

With one, you have complete control over what you can do with your original work.

Like trademarks, however, copyrights aren’t required for a piece of work to be protected.

If you have tangible proof that you created a specific creative item, you will have a moderate amount of protection.

With that said, we still recommend that you consider registered copyright for further legal protections.

Pursuing registration can be highly beneficial, especially if someone steals your work and you want to seek significant damages.

Copyrighting your work can also give you protection for an incredible length of time.

For example, some countries, such as the United States, protect an author’s work for their entire life and an additional 70 years.

With a registered copyright, not only will you have protection while you’re alive, but your estate also will after your passing.

The simplest way to explain the difference between copyright and patent is to consider the work they cover.

Copyright is for original works of art, such as paintings and novels.

Patents are used for protecting discoveries and inventions, which are items that might not be covered by copyright law.

difference between patent and trademark concept

The third area of focus to consider when searching for creative protection is the difference between copyright vs trademark.

When exploring trademark vs copyright, a few key factors are considered, as the two differ considerably.

There are three fundamental factors to consider when discussing the difference between copyright and trademark.

Understanding these requirements can help you better understand how it differs from trademark protection.


Every creator needs to know their rights when seeking copyright.

When you register your copyright, you’re awarded exclusive rights to display, distribute, and print your work.

For performing artists, such as bands, copyright proves you are the only one allowed to play your music.

The topic of copyright has boomed in popularity online over the past few years due to this very issue.

It allows individuals to have exclusive rights to transmit and publish work on the internet, including social media.

With platforms like YouTube and Twitch, creators are often barred by copyright protections that other artists hold.

You might find that content creators can’t use specific songs or imagery in their videos, as the rights are owned by another artist.

If these creative works are profited on, damages can be sought either monetarily or by removing the creator’s video.


One of the most important things to consider when seeking copyright protection is the type of media.

Your work must be a fixed, tangible medium of expression to have copyright.

For example, the item must have a fixed design, such as a sculpture, movie, sound recording, or book.


As expected, when you’re looking to copyright your work, you will have to prove that it is indeed an original.

Items can be inspired by previous works of art, but they must be significantly different at the same time.

You can’t use the same color scheme, font, or design elements as a previously existing creation.

The Core of Trademark Protection

A considerable difference between trademark vs copyright is that trademarking is slightly newer.

The Congress first implemented it in 1946 to protect businesses and consumers.

Let’s explore some of the fundamental components of trademark protection.

Customer Confusion

One of the most critical facets of trademarking is to avoid customer confusion.

When a business trademarks a slogan, logo, or phrase, they signify that this content is exclusively related to their brand.

This point means that no other business within the same industry can use a similar logo or phrase to confuse consumers.

Goods and Services

Another critical thing to remember with trademarking a creation is how it is used.

Businesses will have to provide that their trademarked logo or slogan is being used to conduct commerce.

Otherwise, you won’t maintain the rights, and another company can use it to their advantage.

Can Something Be Copyrighted and Trademarked?

In some instances, obtaining both a copyright and trademark is better than contemplating copyright vs trademark.

With a combination of these two types of coverage, you can protect certain aspects of the same product.

As we know, copyright law protects the artistic components of an item, while trademark protects commercial aspects.

If your business owns a logo that you are using on your products, it can be beneficial to seek both protections.

With copyright, the imagery, colors, and font used to create your logo are sufficiently protected.

Using a registered trademark, your company is the only entity legally allowed to use the logo to sell goods and services.

This process is most often seen in the advertising industry, especially to avoid intellectual property theft.

Trademarks are often used to protect slogans used in advertising.

Copyright laws can then be used to protect the creative expression used to craft the advertisement.

Final Thoughts

Navigating the difference between copyright and trademark, as well as patents, can be challenging at first.

Knowing what each type of coverage offers, you can ensure all of your tangible and creative works are covered.

The difference between patent and trademark is something that small and large businesses should consider to prevent legal concerns.

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