How do copyrights, trademarks and patents differ?

copyrights, trademarks and patents

How do copyrights, trademarks and patents differ?

Intellectual Property broadly refers to original and possibly valuable ideas, such as an invention or a work of fiction. Owning intellectual property gives you the authority to produce or license it.

Patents, trademarks, and copyrights are three different categories of intellectual property that are sometimes confused with one another. This article will present the distinctions between the three.


A patent is a type of property right given by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). For only a limited period of time, a patent holder can prohibit others from creating, using, or selling an invention. Utility, design, and plant patents are the three different types of patents. The exclusive right for utility and plant patents lasts for a period of 20 years from the application date, provided that the applicant pays the required maintenance costs. After the grant date, a design patent’s exclusive rights are valid for 14 years.

What Distinguishes a Patent from a Copyright

While original works of literature, music, art, architecture, software and dance are all protected by copyright, innovations of new processes are protected by patents, with the exception of design patents. Similar to a patent owner, the owner of a copyright possesses exclusive rights, such as the ability to duplicate, alter, distribute, show in public, or perform in public.

An applicant may in some circumstances be granted both a copyright and a patent. When an ornamental design is both eligible for a patent and a copyright-protected work of art, for example, there may be overlap between a design patent and copyright.

What Distinguishes a Patent from a Trademark?

A trademark protects the words, phrases, symbols, logos, or other devices used to identify the source of goods or services from use by rival businesses, whereas a patent prevents others from creating or selling an invention. Trademarks grant the owner the sole right to use particular symbols and expressions, as well as the power to prohibit competitors from using a mark that would mislead consumers about the source of the goods or services they are purchasing.

In most circumstances, there is no overlap, but occasionally, when a design patent is used to protect a product’s ornamental design and that design is also used as a brand emblem, both trademark and patent protection may be applicable.

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