What’s the Difference Between a Trademark and a Patent?


A trademark is typically a symbol, word, phrase or design that clearly identifies the source of goods.  A service mark is the same as a trademark but it focuses on the source of a service rather than goods.  For example, if your company offers services you may want to protect the name of your company with a service mark.  However, if you have a new invention idea for a product and have given that product a name you might decide to protect that name with a trademark.

You cannot expect the same type of protection from a trademark as you can from a patent.  A trademark typically protects brand names and logos used on goods and service and a patent protects the actual invention (not the name or logo).

Those who attempt to acquire what is known as a federal trademark registration under the United States Patent and Trademark Office are given an array of choices of different types of marks. An applicant may choose from a character mark or some kind of special form mark (included therein are logos, stylized marks, and the design-plus-words marks).

How do the character mark and special form mark differ from one another?

The character mark is made up only of letters, words, numbers, or the combination of them. There is no particular color, stylized design, or image that forms part of it.  The word(s) or phrase(s) are not only protected but the owner can likewise use them in any medium and fashion as long as it is within the bounds of the indicated products or services in the application.  The applicant that successfully has the trademark registration for a character mark has the exclusive right for its use when it comes to the services or goods listed in the trademark application.  It provides the broadest and greatest protection for the owner.

Meanwhile, the special form mark, otherwise known as the stylized or design mark, is utilized when the mark to be registered is made up of stylized letters, words, numbers, or other design element.  This kind of trademark is used if someone wants to protect not only the characters but also the color and design, such as with a logo.  This kind of mark may also be known as the design-plus-words mark. An applicant should consider this type when the mark has both a character and image component.  This type of trademark does not offer the same type of broad protection because it is only enforceable for that specific configuration and any deviation means the registration losing its enforceability.

If you have an idea for a new invention and need help with a trademark or patent, InventionHome can assist you.  Please call 1-866-844-6512.