In today’s world protecting your ideas and products is something you do not want to take lightly. One of the worst feelings is to pour your heart and soul into something only to have someone steal it from you. Deciding how to protect your product can be a difficult decision but is a decision that needs to be made. Most people think there is no difference between a patent and a trademark, well guess again.
Individuals should apply for patents when they have an idea, process, or something that is considered abstract. When patenting a concept one must be very careful with how they register the patent. If you leave loopholes with your idea and someone comes along with a similar idea a lawsuit will not end up in your favor. When filing a patent you must be extremely thorough on what is protected. It is highly advised to seek professional help when patenting an idea. When seeking professional help you must be careful not to leave it in the hands of any “professional”, otherwise they may steal your idea. Depending on what the patent covers will determine the cost. Typically trademarks are cheaper than patents and hold up better in a lawsuit. Be wary of a company that offers patenting and trademarking. You should always do your research before submitting anything. If you feel confident and competent you can file directly at www.uspto.gov (U.S Patent & Trademark Office). Example of patent are McDonald’s assembly line process.
Trademarking is different from patents. Trademarks protects concrete things like products and logos (things you can physically see or touch). Trademarks usually are not as expensive as a patent. Trademarking typically doesn’t require professional help. Say you have a clothing line and want to protect the logo. The next step is to have logo/image scanned to send to uspto.gov, then you fill out what industries you want protection in, then pay the fee. Remember it is the USPTO (United States) meaning your product is not protected abroad unless you file another application for the overseas territory you want protection. Examples of trademarks are most prominent with logos. It very expensive for a company to protect every product with a trademark. Whereas a patent once you protect a process, it can not be used by anyone else without written consent. An individual should make trademarking a company logo priority over trademarking a product. Example of trademark is McDonald’s logo.
As a reminder be sure to thorough with your research, try not to spread yourself thin protecting ideas/products, and good luck.