What are Patents and Trademarks?



 Intellectual Property refers to the intangible creations like inventions, designs, and symbols, artistic and literary works, names and designs used in commerce. Intellectual property can further be divided into two categories, Industrial property, and Copyright.

Industrial property includes trademarks and patents for inventions.A Trademark protects the words, symbols, logos, phrases or expressions whereas a Patent is the protection of an invention. A trademark is a form of design, recognizable signs or expressions of a particular source. Trademarks which identify services are generally called service marks. A patent is also a form of intellectual property that gives the inventor the legal right to protect his invention from others from making, using, selling and importing.

When an owner files a patent, he/she gets exclusive right to protect the invention for 20 years, however, it cannot be renewed. Unlike patents, the trademarks do not expire after a set term of years. Trademarks can last forever, as long as it is used in commerce to indicate the source.



Patents provide incentives to the individual by recognizing the creativity and offers a possible material reward for the remarkable invention. Benefits of patent filing encourage innovations and help in giving a better life to humans. The protection which a patent provides ensures that it cannot be used commercially, distributed or sold without the consent of the owner. The rights are generally practiced in the courts which hold the authority to stop any infringement.

A patent owner reserves the right to decide who can or who cannot use his invention for the patented period. She/he may allow other parties to use the inventions on mutually agreed terms. They may also sell the rights to someone else who in turn becomes the new patent owner. Patents have prevailed in all the aspects of a human life ranging from electric lights to Magnetic Resonance Imaging(MRI) to iPhones. The patent owners have to provide all the information in the public domain to let the world know about the technical knowledge of the invention. The information could help future researchers and inventors, with their work.


The first step to secure a patent is to file a patent application. The application generally contains the title of the invention indicating its technical field. The application includes the description of the invention with all the details which can let an individual of the same field and average understanding to use or reproduce the invention. The details are generally accompanied by drawings, plans or diagrams. The application also contains the claims, the information which helps to determine the extent of protection to be granted by the patent. The patents are granted by National Patent Offices or by regional offices.

Under the regional systems, the protection is allowed in one or more countries and each country decides whether to offer the protection within its borders. An Invention which is being filed for patent protection should be of practical use and must show that it has new characteristics which are not a part of any existing pieces of work in the related field. It must contain information about how its an inventive step which can’t be deduced by a person of average knowledge of the same field.

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TrademarkTrademark is a unique sign which identifies specific goods or services produced or provided by a company or individual. The process goes back to ancient times when the artisans reproduced their specific signatures or marks on the products they use to make. Over the years it catapulted to a system of trademark registration and protection. Trademarks help a normal person or a consumer to identify the product. The trademarks come in handly while purchasing a product or service to establish its specific characteristic and quality. Trademark protection ensures that the owner of the specific design enjoys the exclusive rights to use it to identify goods or services. She/he also reserves the right to authorize others to use them and in return receives a substantial payment. Generally, the protections of any kind are valid for a definite period but trademark protection is legally in action indefinitely on payment of a fee. It is enforced by courts legally who reserve the right to stop any kind of infringement. Designs are at a high risk of getting counterfeited when the original products have immense market value and respect. The counterfeiters make similar signs to sell inferior or different products or services. The protection hinders all such efforts of illegal competitors. The system protects the people with skill and enterprise to produce and market their products or services in the fairest possible conditions and helping in international trade.

Trademarks can be one or a combination of words, letters, and numerals. These could comprise of drawings, symbols or three-dimensional signs. In some countries even holograms motion, color and non-visible signs like sounds, smell or taste can also be protected. There are collective marks as well which are owned by an association and the members agree to adhere to specific rules set by the association.


To file for trademark protection first an application for registration is filed with the concerned national or regional trademark office. The application must clearly show the sign filed for registration with the right colors, forms or three-dimensional features. It should also state the list of goods or services to which the sign implies. It should be as distinctive so the consumer can differentiate it instantly from trademarks identifying other products. The sign should not in any condition mislead or deceive the customers neither it should violate public morality. The rights granted to one trademark owner can’t be same or similar to the rights applied to another owner. Approvals are subject to coming out original during search and examination by the national officers or by the third party opposition parties who claim to have the same or identical designs.

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