What is the difference between a trademark and trade dress?
Simply, a trademark is a brand name or logo that uniquely identifies a source of manufacture or services etc. It’s typically a name or logo, but common subjects of trademark are slogans, colors, and sounds and even scents. Trademarks are registered in a Trademark Register of a particular country, in the the US it’s the USPTO Trademark Register.
Trade dress, on the other hand, is visual appearance such as the shape of the article or the packaging, or even building design. Features that are in common to a brand (such as a distinct buckle for Hermes bags) may be protected as trade dress, through the trademark system. It must be sufficiently recognized in the marketplace to uniquely distinguish the trade dress owner’s goods.
Is trade dress the same as a design patent?
Yes, as both cover the appearance of the article, however trade dress covers features that are already recognized in the marketplace as distinguishing the article from others, while a design patent covers the aesthetic features of manufacture (and at that, only what is new in the design patent over what is already out there). Trade dress is a much more powerful protection than a design patent as it doesn’t expire and may be in use as long as the brand is using the trade dress features.