What is the difference between a patent and a trademark?
According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, a patent is a property right related to an invention. Patents have a limited duration and are granted in exchange for public disclosure of the invention. A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies the source of goods of one party from those of others.
Why do I need a patent?
If you have invented or discovered a new and useful device, process, or chemical compound, or if you have made improvements to an existing device, process, or chemical compound, you may seek a patent to claim and protect your invention or discovery.
Why do I need a trademark?
Trademarks are sought and registered by business entities (including manufacturers) that want to publicly identify and differentiate their products and/or services from the products and/or services of others. Trademarks are not required by law, but doing so is often a favorable decision because it gives a business owner official ownership of the mark as well as legal rights to use the mark throughout the US.
What is the process for filing for a patent/trademark?
The basic process for obtaining a patent is as follows:
- Verify that your invention has not already been patented by using the US Patent and Trademark Office’s search function
- Determine the type of patent based upon your invention (a utility patent is most common)
- Determine whether your patent will need to be filed internationally
- Gather all necessary information and file using the USPTO’s electronic filing system
- Upon examination from the USPTO, your patent application will either be accepted or require reconsideration, revision, or be subject to an appeal process
- With all issues resolved and additional fees for issue and publication paid, the USPTO then grants the patent
The basic process for registering a trademark is as follows:
After this time period has passed (approximately 8 weeks after publication), the USPTO will issue a Notice of Allowance, which indicates that the mark is allowed, but not yet registered. Within 6 months of receiving the NOA, you must submit a “Statement of Use”, indicating that you are using the mark in commerce.
Are there fees associated with patents or trademarks?
Yes. A complete list of fees based upon the type of patent can be found here. A complete list of fees for registering a trademark can be found here.
What are the risks and benefits?
The majority of risks associated with patents and trademarks come with failing to register or maintain an existing patent or trademark. Legal protection against infringement is only granted with a current patent or trademark. A patent can also prevent theft, lead to reduced competition due to the risk of infringement, and provide other protections should a situation require litigation.
If you have further questions regarding the process of filing, registering, and maintaining a patent or trademark, please leave a comment!