Difference between Copyrights, Trademarks and Patents

13 March 2023

When it comes to property people often think about tangible property such as real estate property (buildings, houses, etc) and personal property (jewellery, gold, silver, etc.). However, brand logos, designs, literary works, musical works and many other things are also considered as property or more specifically intangible property. The term Intellectual Property (“IP”) implies creations of the human mind, such as artistic works, inventions, designs, literary works, etc.

IP Law has been the fastest growing legal field in recent years. It is pretty obvious that without having the assurance of security regarding one’s innovation, creative works or a brand, it is unlikely that companies or individuals would be willing to give expend their time, efforts and money into such projects. Hence, strong laws and growth in innovation work hand in hand.

The scope of IP is vast. But it is essential to have a good understanding of the most common rights that are offered through IP. The most commonly applied for are:

1. Copyrights;

2. Trademarks; and

3. Patents

Trademarks, Copyrights and Patents are collectively called as intellectual property. All three provide a legal shield to the owners thereof.

Protection of IP often goes unnoticed by business owners. Very few business or start-up owners understand the importance of safeguarding their IP in the long run. It is therefore highly vital for a business owner, startup owner, creative person or an inventor to have clarity about the concepts of Trademark, Copyright and Patents. The said concepts have been explained as follows:

1. Copyright:

Copyright is an exclusive right which protects original works covering both unpublished and published works including literature, drama, musical, artistic works, cinematographic films and sound recordings. It gives the copyright holder the right to reproduce, license, to distribute copies or records of the copyrighted work. It also allows a person to display the copyrighted work publicly or to perform the copyrighted work publicly.

The right of copyright is created and remains with the owner from the moment the work is created in a fixed form. It also protects the form of expression and is not just focused on the content.

2. Trademark:

A trademark is a word, group of words, logo, symbol or combination of these that distinguishes the products of one business from that of another in the marketplace. It has to be unique, distinct, and capable of being represented graphically. It should also be capable of differentiating the goods or services of one person from that of others so that a mark can be registered under the trademark law.

It helps in creating a brand which the general public identifies with, which is very important to a company’s growth. The first thing that a consumer recognizes is the brand through its distinct identity i.e. its name and logo.

Trademark registration protects the brand owners from infringement, unfair competitors, such as counterfeiters from copying and using similar names/logos to market their inferior or different products or services.

3. Patents:

Patent is one of the most important intellectual property rights which acts as an effective motivational tool as well as security for inventors. Patent Registration not only aids the inventor to make money by way of royalty but also aids the country in which the patented invention is being made by giving the country a boost on the growth and development front. It gives the inventor a monopoly grant through which the inventor monitors and controls the availability of the invention to the public.

To be able to register a Patent, the invention needs to be novel and should be capable of commercial applicability.

Points Of Difference Between Copyrights, Trademarks and Patents:

Point of Difference Copyrights Trademarks Patents
Governing Act The Copyrights Act, 1957 The Trade Marks Act, 1999 The Patents Act, 1970
Scope of Protection Protection of original creative expressions like literary works, artistic works, dramatic works, etc. Protection of unique name / symbol/ design that makes a brand distinct from other. Can include name, word combinations, slogans, logo, shape, colour etc. Protection of inventions that are novel, original and has industrial utility.
Validity Valid for life time of the author + 60 years after his/her death. Validity for 10 years can be made perpetual by renewing the trademark every 10 years. Territorial in nature to claim rights should be applied to each country individually. Validity for 20 years starting from the day the application is first made. It is also a territorial right and therefore it is effective only within the territory of India. Separate patents required to be filed for each country where protection is required.
Right comes into Existence Exclusive rights over the copyright are created the moment the authorship creates the work. Once the trademark gets registered the applicant of the mark can claim complete right over the said mark. Registration usually takes 12-18 months. Patent registration takes about 2-3 years in all. But the owner can stop anyone else from claiming right over a particular patent the moment he applies for provisional patent.
Difference between Copyrights, Trademarks and Patents


India offers a wide range of IP protections to business and brand owners by way of IP laws.

The decision to pursue a patent, trademark, or copyright depends on the type of intellectual property one trying to shield. Whether it’s a new product, logo, or creative work, registering your idea with the appropriate body can help one ensure that he enjoys the fruits of his labour.

Copyright, Trademarks and Patents are intangible assets of a company and need to be safeguarded from infringement or misuse. Copyright is used to safeguard all intellectual work and the rights of its creator while Trademark is used to safeguard the distinctive mark of the company that helps the public to recall the name of the company which is selling a particular product. It prevents others from using a mark which can cause confusion in the customers’ minds regarding the product or service. Patent helps give the applicant the exclusive right to control production and distribution of the patented product or service or process, ensuring a distinctive advantage over the competitors.

IP has been a growing field for some time now and it is poised to grow further within the future.

The importance of IP has been realised all across the world as people have understood the goodwill and reputation that comes along with their IP, which has led to more and more businesses wanting to secure their IP. India has also recognized the need for IP to encourage the inventor for innovative and new ideas of expression in different fields and has provided benefits to applicants who are registered as startups.


The content of this article is for information purpose only and does not constitute advice or a legal opinion and are personal views of the author. It is based upon relevant law and/or facts available at that point of time and prepared with due accuracy & reliability. Readers are requested to check and refer to relevant provisions of statute, latest judicial pronouncements, circulars, clarifications etc before acting on the basis of the above write up. The possibility of other views on the subject matter cannot be ruled out. By the use of the said information, you agree that the Author / Treelife Consulting is not responsible or liable in any manner for the authenticity, accuracy, completeness, errors or any kind of omissions in this piece of information for any action taken thereof.

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