What are the similarities and differences between patent and trademark attorneys?

While some people think patent and trademark attorneys are completely interchangeable, the areas of law in question are actually different. While it is possible to have both a patent and trademark on the design, it is usually the exception; not the rule.

To help you understand the nuances of patents and trademarks, we’ve broken it down for you in the post below.

Patents Vs. Trademarks

Let’s face it, a lot of people can’t tell the difference between what’s patentable and what can be protected by a trademark. To help with the conversation, we’ve defined both terms for you below and provided specific examples to make things easier to understand:

  • Patents: Generally speaking, patents are used to protect inventions. The goal of a patent is to prevent others from being able to use an invention, or critical components of a device, without the inventor’s express permission. Once a patent is filed, and granted, the inventor has legal grounds to stop anyone from infringing on his or her patent. They also have grounds to recoup any monetary losses associated with a patent violation. Recent patent cases that have drawn major news headlines include Apple versus Samsung and vice versa. Both claimed key components of each other’s’ phones infringed on corporate patents.
  • Trademarks: Trademarks differ from patents in the sense they don’t focus on how technology is used. Instead, they concentrate on protecting recognizable names of specific products, services, logos, or any other item that can be readily used to identify the source of particular goods and services. You may recall one famous trademark case in which Paris Hilton successfully sued Hallmark over the use of her trademark phrase, “That’s hot.”

As you can see, both areas of law grant an individual or company specific legal protections. However, the extent of the protections in both areas differs based on what it is you are trying to protect.

So, What Do Patent and Trademark Attorneys Do?

When it comes to patents and trademarks, the first thing your attorney can help you do is to define whether or not you qualify. Not every product or design is patentable. In fact, your so-called invention may already be covered by another patent. In instances like these your lawyer will help you define where and how you qualify (or don’t). Based on that information, you can choose to file or look at ways to alter your design to comply.

Trademarks operate in a similar fashion. You’ll want to do an industry scan to ensure your trademark isn’t a violation of anyone else’s. You may also want to consider whether or not filing for a trademark is actually worth it. Sometimes the value of whatever you are trying to trademark is less than the cost of actually securing it. Choose wisely.

Looking for Help with Your Patent or Trademark?

What have you got to lose? If you have questions about the benefits of hiring experienced patent and trademark attorneys, just contact the Wilbanks Law Firm, P.C. online today.

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