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Difference between Trademark, Copyright and Patent ?


What’s the difference between copyright, trademark and patent?

Copyright, patents and trademarks are all different types of intellectual property (IP). Since the three forms of IP are very different, they are sometimes confused by people.

A brief overview of copyright, patents and trademarks is below

What’s Copyright?

  • Copyright is an exclusive right that protects original works of authorship; covering both unpublished and published works including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works, cinematographed film and sound recordings.
  • It gives the copyright holder the right to reproduce, license, to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work.
  • The right subsists with the owner from the moment the work is created in a fixed form. It protects mainly the form of expression and is not much focused on just content.

What’s Trademark?

  • A trademark is a word, group of words, symbol or combination of these that distinguishes the products of one competitor from the products of other competitors in the marketplace.
  • It protects and helps in the creation of the brand which is eminently important to a company’s growth. The first thing that a consumer recognizes is the brand through its distinct identity i.e. its name.
  • It has to be unique, distinct, and capable of being represented graphically. Also, should be capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one person from those of others a brand can be registered under the trademark law.

What is the patent?

  • The primary objective of patent law is to encourage innovation and the commercialization of technological advances.
  • Patent law requires inventors to publicly reveal their inventions in exchange for other exclusive rights.
  • The patent shall cover inventions. Such innovations can include, but are not limited to, modern and useful methods, devices, manufacturers, compositions of matter and enhancements to them.
Basis Copyright Trademark Patent
Meaning It protects the expression of ideas like the work of art. Artistic work includes work related to books, paintings, music and computer programs. Copyright protection benefits by excluding others from work. Trademark protects every word, logo, design that signifies the company and distinguishes the brand from others. The patent covers the inventor’s invention and gives the inventor an exclusive right to his innovation and also excludes others from the use of the innovation.
Significance Expression of Ideas Identification of brand Invention
Govern by Indian Copyright Act, 1957 Trade Marks Act, 1999 Indian Patent Act, 1970
Protection given for Novel works of authorship like books, articles, songs, photographs, paintings, choreography, sound recordings, motion pictures, etc. Any word, logo, symbol, mark, phrase that differentiates goods of one party from another. Features of shape, configuration, pattern, and ornament, the form of lines, colour or blend thereof applied to each article.
Requirements of Registration The work must be original, creative and must be able of fixing in the tangible form. The marks needs to be unique. The design needs to be original and must be referred to the article by any industrial process.
Exclusions Others are not permitted to copy the work without the permission of the creator. Stop others from using the same logo/symbol. Stop others from using the invention without the permission
Validity Term The validity time in copyright is 60 years. The validity time in trademark is 10 years. The validity time in patent is 20 years.
Rights provided Right to control the reproduction, creating of copied works, distribution and public performance and shows of the copyrighted works. Rights to apply the mark and stop any 3rd person from using the deceptively same mark. Right to stop others from producing, selling using or importing the patented invention
Symbolic Representation Used symbolic ©  to show registration. Used when registration is in process: ™

Used when registration is complete: ®

No symbolic representation to show registration.

DISCLAIMER: The entire contents have been developed on the basis of relevant information and are purely the views of the authors. Though the authors have made utmost efforts to provide authentic information however, the authors expressly disclaim all or any liability to any person who has read this document, or otherwise, in respect of anything, and of consequences of anything done, or omitted to be done by any such person in reliance upon the contents of this document. Reader should seek appropriate counsel for their own situation. I shall not be held liable for any of the consequences directly or indirectly.


Any other suggestions /opinions are welcomed.



Author: CS Megha Sharan (Company Secretary in Practice)

Ezzus India Team

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