Know The Difference Between Trademark & Intellectual Property

Know The Difference Between Trademark & Intellectual Property

Legal jargon and terms can appear complex and confusing to most people and businesses. One such cause of confusion is the lack of understanding of intellectual property and trademark legal terms. It's not uncommon for a business to misunderstand or confuse one with another, resulting in losing rights to the property they thought they still owned.

Key Facts to Know About Intellectual Property

Trademarks, industrial designs, trade secrets, patents and copyrights are all included under the umbrella of intellectual property rights. It is essential to understand that each of these provide protection for different things and protection is granted in different ways.

Your invention is at risk of being used by someone else unless you have a patent. The look of your product can be protected by an industrial design. For these types of protection, filing appropriate applications is the only way to protect your assets.

Basic trademark rights are available after you start using a trademark or have filed a trademark application. While a trademark registration is not a requirement for protection, it is highly recommended as it provides greater protection than simply using the trademark does.

As soon as an artistic work is created, copyright protection comes into existence.

Trade secrets can only provide protection as long as they remain secret.

A registered patent and trademark agent can help you develop a strategy to protect the different types of intellectual property you may have.

Key Facts to Know About Trademarks

Trademarks are divided into two kinds - registered trademarks and unregistered trademarks. Registered trademarks provide protection across the country and requires the owner to successfully meet all of the requirements of the trademark registration process. In contrast, an unregistered trademark is created by simply using the trademark in commerce. Unregistered trademarks can only provide protection in the geographic area in which the brand has become known. This means that people in other areas in which you are not known can also use the same trademark on similar goods and services. If you own an unregistered trademark, you cannot sue a third party for trademark infringement, you are limited to an action of passing off. Only the owners of registered trademarks can sue a third party for trademark infringement. The legal tests associated with passing off and infringement are different, a registered trademark gives you more options if you need to stop a third party from using your trademarks.

How Different Types of Intellectual Property Overlap

A single piece of intellectual property can be protected by more than one type of intellectual property. For instance, a unique artwork that is protected by copyright may become a trademark. Or, a unique design of a patented invention may be protected by an industrial design. There can very well be other overlaps that can happen.


Businesses are known to miss opportunities to protect some of their intellectual property. Get in touch with our team for guidance in protecting your intellectual property.

Consulting a trademark lawyer or agent and getting advice on these complex issues can help prevent loss of rights or avoidable legal problems.