What are Patents and Trademarks?
Patents and trademarks differ greatly. In a nutshell, a patent offers protection for an invention or an improvement to an existing invention (like a new machine or better mousetrap). Patents for inventions that do work are called utility patents.
Patents can also be applied to designs that are used to manufacture items at a place like a factory. These are called design patents. A better mousetrap may be granted a design patent for its manufacture and a utility patent for its use.
Patents are also granted for new varieties of plants. These are called Plant patents.
Trademarks aren’t physical inventions. As a result, they are completely different from patents. Trademarks are names, logos, images, and the like that are generally created to identify a company or product. The Coca-Cola logo and name are trademarked, as is the web site for Amazon.com.
The only true relationship between a trademark and a patent is that they both protect the owners, creators, and companies that produced them from others who may try to steal their ideas or products.
Note: Copyrights are a third type of intellectual property and are often confused with patents and trademarks. Copyrights protect literary, artistic, and musical works, and are not applied to or granted for inventions or trade names. For more information on copyrights, refer to The Steps Involved in Applying for a Copyright.