Bicycle helmet shows difference between trademark, patent and design

What is the difference between a patent and a trademark?

We are often asked the question: "Can I patent a name?" or "Can I patent an idea?" Many think that the word "patent" covers all types of industrial property rights. They therefore believe that it is possible to patent nearly anything. Let's clear up some of the concepts and remove any misunderstandings.

A patent is an exclusive right to a specific technical solution, while a trademark is a characteristic that distinguishes your goods and services from those of others. A product can have several types of rights, as we can see in the helmet example above. You can patent the technical locking mechanism, you can register the logo and the name as a trademark and the appearance or design of the helmet as a whole can be registered as a design.

Patent protection requirements

In order to obtain a patent, the invention must be new, have technical character and be capable of being manufactured (reproducible). You can not get a patent for an idea without explaining how it can be implemented in practice. The invention itself may be a specific product, a new application or a method for solving a problem. Examples are ski bindings, computer technology, production methods and motion sensors.
Read more about the criteria for obtaining a patent.

Different types of trademarks

You can not obtain a patent for a name, word or logo. But you can register names, words and logos as trademarks. A trademark is used to distinguish your goods and services from those of others. It may consist of one or more words, names, logos, figures or combinations of these. Did you know that packaging, sound, smell and taste can also be registered as a trademark?

There are many different types of trademarks: figurative marks, word marks, combined marks, slogans, three-dimensional marks, numbers and letters, movement marks, sound marks, smell marks and taste marks. A trademark should not describe the product or service, and it should have what we call distinctiveness. It must therefore be different from what is already on the market.
Read more about trademarks.

Design registration gives protection to the appearance or shape of a product. Read more about design protection.

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