How are trademarks different from other kinds of intellectual property?

In the preceding article, What Are The Different Kinds Of Trademarks , we analyzed the various breeds of trademarks as well as related things that warrant trademark protection. Now, we want to take a step back and review how trademarks differ from other kinds of intellectual property. But first, let us start with the basics:


Intellectual property, or IP as it is known, is the bundle of rights that the law gives to inventions of the mind. This can include a discovery, manufacturing invention, or a piece of art. The real benefit of these rights though is that they allow inventors to gain financially from their creations. However, the critical task that governments have is judging how much recognition to give these inventions. Too little acclaim will not reward them enough and discourage development but too much will ward off others and stifle competition.



Already discussed at length, and the focus of this center, trademarks are symbols that distinguish the goods/services of one producer from another.


Patents are inventions that solve specific problems-technological, medical, scientific, and others. They give their holders the right to stop others from producing, distributing, or otherwise using the invention for a certain amount of time. In exchange for these privileges, they must publicly disclose the nature of their invention. All patents have three requisite components: 1) they must be new 2) they cannot be obvious and 3) they must be industrially applicable.


Similar to patents, copyright laws give creators of works rights for a specified period of time. Generally, these works are more creative in nature but, importantly, copyrights do not extend to the information or concepts themselves just the form of expression in which they are presented. Common items that receive copyright protection include books, newspaper articles, and even songs.

So these are the heavy hitters in intellectual property law but there are others that you might not be aware of and here is a brief description of them.


Industrial Design.

Industrial design rights afford their owners protection for the look and design of their products. However, they must have some aesthetic value and cannot be merely utilitarian in nature.

Trade Dress.

Trade dress relates to the visual and physical makeup of goods as well as their packaging.

Trade Secrets.

A trade secret is a practice, design, combination, or formula that is not generally known or easily discoverable and that a business uses to gain competitive advantage.

Plant Varieties.

Inventors of new plant breeds might receive special and exclusive privileges to sell them if they are examined for novelty and distinctiveness.


Most observers agree that IP is supposed to promote progress. By giving inventors rights in their creations, society gains valuable information to build off of for further development. In the next article, we discuss why trademarks are so important to secure. Why go through the hassle? Learn about why in the next section!

Next: Why should I get a trademark?

© 2016 John V. Robinson, P.C.

© 2016 John V. Robinson, P.C.