Trade Marks vs Other Types of IP: What’s the Difference?

Trade Marks vs Other Types of IP: What’s the Difference?

Trade marks are a very cost-effective and powerful tool which businesses often overlook when starting a new venture. In some ways, trade marks are the ultimate form of IP protection, because if granted, they allow you to monopolise the public’s association between certain words or a logo and your business. This means you have ownership over your intangible “goodwill”, which otherwise cannot be protected by other forms of IP. I often hear people talk about “patenting” or “copyrighting” their brand name, when they really mean is obtaining a trade mark. While frustrating, such confusion is understandable, given the overlaps between these forms of IP, and the fact they are often used together as part of a broader IP protection strategy. In this brief, I will try to clarify this issue by discussing and contrasting trade marks with other forms of IP, namely, copyright, patents and trade secrets. Trade Marks A trade mark allows the owner the exclusive right to prevent others from using any confusingly similar mark over similar services. This is done by comparing the look and sound of the marks, as well as the trade channels where the marks appear, and if this would lead to confusion, you can sue for trade mark infringement. Trade marks can also be used in other ways, such as forcing others to hand over a website address incorporating your trade mark.[1] Trade mark rights are territorial and usually last 10 years in each jurisdiction, but can be renewed indefinitely. Unregistered trade mark rights exist at common law, but these are typically subject to the rights of the “official” registered trade mark....