What is the difference between a patent and a trademark?

How about what distinguishes design protection, utility models, copyright and trade secrets? It can be difficult to see clearly between different types of intellectual property rights and choose the one best fitting your needs.

We have clarified the options by explaining how to use patents, utility models, trademarks, designs, copyrights and trade secrets in practice.

If you cannot find the answers you are looking fore here, please book a non-committal meeting with one of our consultants.

Patents

Patents are used to protect technical inventions - that is, the technical solutions needed to solve a practical problem.

For example, one can obtain a patent for an apparatus, a chemical composition, a material, or for a process, such as a manufacturing process. In order to obtain a patent, the invention must be new, inventive and have a possible industrial application.

A patent is generally in effect for 20 years from the date of filing, but in some cases may be for longer.

Read more about patents and patent applications

Get answers to your questions regarding patents and patent applications

Optimising investment with the use of IP often raises many interesting and challenging questions from our clients. We have gathered them in one place so that you can easily get answers regarding, for example, the difference between a patent and a trademark, how often patents must be renewed, and whether it is best to apply for a patent in Denmark or abroad.

Utility models

A utility model protects a technical invention in a similar way a patent does, only with a more relaxed requirement for inventiveness.

Utility models are not available in as many countries as patents are, and the rules vary widely from country to country. Also, a utility model has a shorter lifespan than a patent – this is typically 10 years.

The advantage of a utility model, however, is that the time to grant is shortened. Therefore, a solution can be found down this route if you need an enforceable right quickly.

Trademarks

Trademarks are used to protect business identifiers such as names, logos, brands or even sounds.

A trademark can be maintained for as long as needed, as long as it can be proven that it is in use and it is renewed.

Read more about trademarks and trademark protection here

Do you want to know more about trademark protection?

What is the difference between a patent and a trademark? Have you thought about why trademarks should be registered in different countries? And do you know if a professional representative is required to register a trademark?

We have put together these and many other trademark and trademark protection questions in our FAQ so you can quickly find answers to the most common questions.

Design

Design protection protects the appearance of an industrial product.

With design registration, one can protect a distinctive look of a product and prevent competitors from making a product that mimics one's own.

Read more about design and design protection

 

Do you want to know more about design and design protection?

We have compiled a wide range of design and design protection questions to help you understand, for example, why you should register your design; what a design protection typically costs; and whether there are benefits with co-registration.

Copyright

This right protects an author of a work from copying. A copyright may cover, for example:

  • texts
  • music
  • pictures
  • figures

Unlike the other types of rights, copyright does not require registration. Automatic copyright is obtained where a work has independent artistic value.

Unfortunately, this also means that one does not know if copyright can be enforced before enforcement is attempted. In such situations, a court must first assess whether the work is sufficiently unique to convey a copyright before the court can decide whether said right has been infringed.

Trade secrets

Corporate trade secrets include information that has value by virtue of its secret nature. For example, trade secrets may include, amongst others:

  • recipes
  • process parameters
  • customer lists
  • information on production economics
  • pricing methods

You may be able to prevent others from taking advantage of your corporate secrets, but this will require proof both that said secrets have been used and that they have been accessed unlawfully.

It can be exceedingly difficult to meet such a burden of proof. Therefore, it is crucial that trade secrets remain just that; secret.

Corporate secrets cannot be registered. It should be kept in mind, however, that if you are to enforce your rights you must be able to show that reasonable steps have been taken to keep the information secret.

Do you need advice?

Talk to one of our consultants; they can advise you all along the process, from idea to the final product, and actively defend your rights from those who infringe them.

Together we build the protection that suits you and your business best. Also, bear in mind that the first consultation is always free of charge.