Patent vs Trademark

Differences between a patent and a trademark

A patent relates to an invention. On the other hand, a trademark relates to the name under which a product, good, or service is sold and/or advertised.

As an example, a shoe company may have different shapes of shoes that are patented, the names/ phrases Nike®  and Just  Do It ® are registered trademarks of Nike Inc., that is, the brand under which a company sells its products/goods and advertises them.

Photo by George Pagan III on


Patenting an invention is a time-consuming and complicated process. At an average it takes about 2-4 years before a patent can be awarded after initial filing of a utility patent application. Examination of a patent application does not begin until 1-2 years of filing the application. However, trademark applications are examined after 3 months of filing. At an average, a trademark is generally registered within 6-12 months of the initial filing.


Since patent law is complicated and takes a long time to process an application, legal costs for obtaining a patent can be between $15,000- $20,000 (and even more in some cases). It is not unusual for big companies to spend approximately $50,000 in legal fees to obtain a single patent.

Trademarks, on the other hand, are easier to obtain since trademark law is not as complicated as patent law. Thus, the legal fee to obtain a trademark is less than $1,000.


It is easy for an average reader to get confused between a trademark and a patent. Patents relate to inventions, which trademarks related to name used to market or sell goods or services.  Filing and obtaining a trademark is cheaper than filing and obtaining a patent. Patent law is overly complicated and time-consuming compared to trademark law. More information regarding patents and trademarks can be obtained at the USPTO’s website on its article, titled, Trademark, Patent, or Copyright.