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The Basic Differences Between Trademarks, Copyrights, Patents, & Trade Secrets

It’s very common for non-lawyers (as well as lawyers who don’t focus their law practices on intellectual property) to mix up the different types of intellectual property—trademarks, copyrights, patents, and trade secrets. The purpose of this post is to provide the basic differences between trademarks (designed to identify the source of goods or services and avoid consumer confusion), copyrights (designed to protect creative expressive works), patents (designed to grant a limited monopoly for use of inventions and processes in exchange for public disclosure), and trade secrets (aimed to protect business secrets that provide a competitive advantage so long as reasonable measures are taken to maintain the secrets).

What is a Trademark?

This post provides a simple explanation of trademark and some of the related responsibilities. Trademarks distinguish the source of goods and services from competitors in a marketplace.  Use in commerce, first-in-time, and likelihood of confusion are trademark law touchstones.  Although Texas recognizes trademark rights in the common law, limited geographic protection and burden of proof …

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