Intellectual Property: What’s the Difference Between a Patent and a Trademark?

The field of Intellectual Property and its intricacies can often seem complex, so it’s no surprise that many people are confused by the differences between patents and trademarks, and what is covered under each. This blog will answer some of those basic questions, but if you have more questions about the process, please don’t hesitate to contact our seasoned IP law firm.


The World Intellectual Property Organization describes a patent as “an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem.”  

Patents are most often granted in 20 year increments for ideas and processes in the field of technology, but can also be given for any invention from a cleaning utensil to the functional expression of a software program.

Securing a patent allows the inventor to hold sole rights over their design and the design process. It also inhibits anyone else from producing, distributing, importing, or selling their design without the express permission of the inventor. Patent rights are considered to be territorial, meaning the inventor only holds exclusive claim in the country in which the patent application was filed and accepted.


A trademark is a symbol, word, slogan, design or name that identifies and distinguishes a business and its products from another. Trademarks allow companies to brand their products so that the source of these products are easily identifiable to the consumer (think Apple or Pepsi).

Not limited to just what meets the eye, trademarks can also be obtained for products that aren’t necessarily identified by sight such as perfumes, though trademarks for these kind of products are often much more difficult to secure.

Trademarks are typically registered in 10 year increments, and can be renewed without limit.

The Main Differences

Patents protects novel ideas, processes, and designs. Trademarks on the other hand cover identifying visuals like logos, slogans, and company brand designs.

For example, an automobile manufacturing company would patent the newest functional technology or innovation that comes with their latest car, and trademark the logo affixed to the car.

There are also many instances where a product may fall into more than one category, and be assigned a patent, trademark, copyright, or any variation of the three.


BRADFORD, LTD is well-versed in the complexities that accompany both domestic and international IP law. If you have questions about protecting your inventions, ideas, and product names, the attorneys at BRADFORD, LTD can help. Contact us at 303.325.5467 to connect with an attorney who can help with your IP matter today.

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Bradford LTD specializes in IP protections and maximization for startups and small businesses. We also provide scaled legal services to our clients, including fractional legal counsel and value-based rates. From trademark, copyright and service mark protections to patent protection and outside inside counsel, we help position entrepreneurs and owners for long-term success.

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