The difference between a trademark and a patent

We always talk about trademarks, but aren’t trademarks patents in the first place? What’s the difference between a trademark and a patent?
Trademarks and patents are protected by different laws. Let’s take a look at what the differences are.

The difference between a trademark and a patent

When you come up with an idea or create something new, how can you monopolize those rights?
Intangible things created through intellectual creation, such as inventions, writings, or business credit, are protected as intangible property rights.

Intangible property rights include “patent rights,” “utility model rights,” “trademark rights,” “design rights,” and “copyrights,” which are also called “intellectual property rights” and are protected by separate laws such as the Patent Law, Utility Model Law, and Trademark Law.

None of these rights are obtained at the time of invention (creation), but are granted as rights only after registration is granted by the Patent Office.
This guide article explains what the “Patent Law” and “Trademark Law” protect, and the differences between “patent rights” and “trademark rights,” along with information on registration requirements.

Differences in Protection Coverage

Patent law protects “inventions of things” and “inventions of methods”.
Trademark law, on the other hand, protects “business credit embodied in a trademark”.
Simply put, the “patent” system protects the creation of technical ideas, while the trademark system protects brand value, etc.

The reason why we deliberately write “business credit incarnated in a trademark” instead of “trademark” as the object of protection is that a “trademark” is a “mark” attached to a product or service, and the trademark itself has no economic value. However, if a business continuously uses a trademark when offering goods or services, consumers will be able to visualize the quality of the goods or services when they see the trademark, and gradually acquire trust in the goods or services that use the trademark.

It is this business reputation embodied in the trademark that is protected as having economic value.

For example, when choosing a product, if a product uses a trademark such as “Panasonic” or “NIKE,” one can imagine the quality of the product and its manufacturer, and feel confident in purchasing it. Simply put, this is what we call “business goodwill incarnated in a trademark”.

What are Patent Rights?

A patent is the right to practice a patented invention in the course of business.
A protected patented invention is a sophisticated creation of a technical idea that utilizes the laws of nature and is not visible. It is protected as a patented invention if it is expressed in writing, an application is filed, and the patent office grants permission to register it. (*You will still have to pay a registration fee to have it registered as a patent right.)

In order to be granted a patent registration, the following requirements must be met during the examination by the Patent Office
The invention must be industrially exploitable.
The invention must be new and not publicly known (novelty)
The invention must not have been easily made from publicly known inventions (inventive step).

The maximum term of a patent is 20 years from the filing date of the patent application.

What are Trademark Rights?

A trademark right is the right to use a registered trademark in connection with designated goods or services.
In other words, a trademark right is a right that is registered not only for the “trademark (mark)” but also for the set of goods or services in which the mark is used.
Trademark rights are also divided into exclusive rights, which are the right to use a registered trademark exclusively, and prohibition rights, which prohibit others from using a trademark that is similar to the registered trademark.

For more information about the goods or services for which the trademark is used, please see the following links

In order to be granted permission to register a trademark, the applicant must meet the registration requirements during the examination by the Patent Office.

The following are the main requirements for registration
-The trademark must be used for goods or services related to the applicant’s business.
-The trademark must have the function of distinguishing one’s own goods or services from those of others.
-The trademark must not be confusingly similar to a public institution’s mark or otherwise contrary to the public interest.
-The trademark must not be confusable with other people’s registered trademarks or well-known trademarks.

Unlike patent rights, trademark rights do not have novelty or inventive step requirements, so a trademark mark can be registered even after it has been published.

Trademark rights cover not only letters, but also figures, three-dimensional shapes, colors, sounds, and objects that change, such as holograms, for registration.

The term of the right is 10 years from registration, but it can be renewed every 10 years and the right can be maintained semi-permanently by paying an annuity.


Let’s look at the difference between patent and trademark rights in specific products.

For example, in smartphones, communication technology and control systems are protected as patented inventions. Names and product names of smartphone manufacturers are protected by trademark rights. For example, “ANDROID” (No. 5132404) and ” Galaxy” (No. 4498554) have been registered as trademarks.

I see! Trademarks and patents are the same industrial property rights, but they are completely different! So both trademarks and patents can be used to protect technology and brands!

To obtain trademark rights, an application must be filed

As mentioned above, in order to obtain a trademark right, you must first file an application with the Patent Office.
Trademark rights are based on the first-to-file system, so the first to file wins.

The procedure for applying for trademark registration is described in detail below.


We hope you have learned the difference between a “patent right” and a “trademark right.

We offer a unique service called “Amazing DX”, a free trademark search system that allows you to easily search and see if there is a prior trademark.
This service is operated by a patent firm, so if you have any questions, you can consult with our patent attorneys via chat.
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Supervisor for the article:
大阪法務戦略部長 八谷 晃典
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