Difference Between Copyright, Patent & Trademark

Difference Between Copyright, Patent & Trademark

Patents, Trademarks and Copyright are three different types of intellectual property. Intellectual property refers to any kind of intangible asset of the business which cannot be seen or touched but its impact can be associated with incurring profits and losses in the business.

The terms patents, trademarks and copyrights are used simultaneously with business functioning. It is the protection value associated with the products and services imparted by the organization. People at times confused all the aforementioned intellectual properties. But although there are similarities in their functioning, there are differences in how they operate. Clearly defining the aforementioned properties would help us generate a vivid idea about how the businesses utilize them-


A copyright is a collection of rights that are vested in the creation of the original work. It is a stamp of authority that you possess once you have created a product. Copyright gives you the right to call a product or a service yours. The copyright of a product or a service can be compared to that of a bundle of sticks. Each stick in the bundle has its individuality. Each stick vested upon you gives you the right to identify the stick as the owner. The rights which are vested in you include the right to generate associated or derivative work, reproduce the work already generated, generate photocopies of the work and distribute them publicly. In short, since the owner possesses the copyright to the product, he has the liberty to do whatever he wants under legal norms and obligations.

Coming back to the analogy of the stick, as the copyright owner, you have the authority to keep each “stick,” to transfer them individually to one or more people or to transfer them collectively to one or more people. Therefore the function of copyright can be performed by licensed, a delegation of product change authority, transfer of rights and obligations and the authority to change the composition of the product and services. The authority of having copyright helps you to change the product styles according to your preferences.


The primary goal of the patent law is to generate innovative capacities and technological upgrades in the products produced. In patents, certain innovations are made to the products and services. In exchange for some exclusive rights, the innovator desires the products and associated patents to be displayed in public. The basic function of a patent is to protect the innovations that are incorporated into the products. These inventions can include new and useful processes, machines, manufactures, compositions of matter as well as improvements to these. Certain computer programs may fall within the subject matter protected by both patents and copyrights.

The patent system works in correlation with the copyright protection mechanism. This generally happens in the case of software protection. Unlike with copyright protection, to get patent protection one must first apply for and be granted a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The registration process of copyright is simple and also requires few legal procedures for completion. However, the patent application process is expensive, difficult to comprehend, complicated and involves a lot of legal binding which does not allow a smooth procedure. Only a patent agent or attorney can help you in this regard.


According to the USPTO, “a trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods. Examples include brand names, slogans, and logos. (The term “trademark” is often used in a general sense to refer to both trademarks and service marks.)” The nature of trademarks is similar to that of the copyright. The person who has the trademark does not require registration for the service. To generate protection and to receive the obligatory protection rights he needs to go through the same registration procedures as was the case for copyrights.

However, certain legal norms and regulations dominate the registration process of trademarks. There is a thin line of differences between copyright and trademarkAt times, both the descriptions overlap. This happens when a graphic illustration is used as a branding logo for the products. The logo of the company which is imprinted on the product may be protected under the legal regulations of both copyrights and trademarks. 

Differences between Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights-

Differences Copyright Patents  Trademarks
What is being protected? Original works whose authority lies only with the owner. The examples may include books, songs, photography, cultural artefacts, sculptures, paintings, designs and any other forms of visual representation. Inventions, such as processes, machines, manufactures, compositions of matter as well as improvements to these. Any word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.
Requirements to be protected A work must be original, creative and fixed in a tangible medium An invention must be new, useful and nonobvious A mark must be distinctive (i.e., that is, it must be capable of identifying the source of a particular good)
Period of Protection Author’s life plus 70 more years (in case of books) 20 Years For as long as the mark is used in commerce and business
Rights Granted or Provided under Legal regulations Right to control the reproduction, making of derivative works, distribution and public performance and display of the copyrighted works Right to prevent others from making, selling using or importing the patented invention Right to use the mark and to prevent others from using similar marks in a way that would cause a likelihood-of-confusion about the origin of the goods or services


Thus, it is important to understand the differences between copyright, patents and trademarks to clarify its usage in the terminology of the business environments. Therefore clearly differentiating the differences between the three bits help in understanding its practical implementation in the functioning of commercial space.