Key Difference between Trademarks, Copyrights and Patents

Trademarks are used to protect distinctive brand marks of a company that helps the public identify its products and services. Whereas, copyright is used to protect the intellectual works of an author, artist or composer. A patent is granted for new and novel inventions, processes, methods, and techniques.

What is a Copyright?

A Copyright refers to a set of rights and is conferred on original works (considered as an intellectual property asset) of a person created using his/her individual talents, skills, creativity and intellect.

1. Scope of Protection

These rights are assigned to the rightful owner of work, for a fixed period of time.

Under the Indian Copyright law, work can include:

  • Literary works,
  • Artistic works,
  • Music compositions,
  • Cinematograph films, and
  • Sound recordings.

2. Term of Protection

Literary works, artistic work, and musical compositions are protected for the life of the author and 60 years after their death.

Cinematograph films, sound recordings, publication, and photographs are protected for a period of 60 years from the year after it was first published.

3. Rights under Copyright

A copyright can be said to be a reward or incentive for the creators of the work. The owner will hold the rights for

  • Reproduction,
  • Distribution,
  • Derivation, and
  • Performance,
  • Along with paternity rights.

This means that no one else can use these works for commercial gain without the permission of the owner.

4. Jurisdiction of Protection

Works of Indian Origin receive automatic protection in all countries that have signed these copyright treaties and conventions such as Berne Convention, WIPO Copyright Treaty or Universal Copyright protection.

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is any mark that helps identify the goods and services of a business. A trademark acts as a source identifier of these goods and services, and also marks its authenticity.

A trademark can include anything that would help a business distinguish its products and services from other similar products and services. 

1. Scope and Parameters of Protection

Trademark registration grants exclusive use of the mark to the owner. The registered owner can prohibit others from using the trademark unless he transfers or licenses it to them.

However, to register a mark, certain parameters have to be met under the Trademarks Act, 1999.

  • The mark should be distinctive, unique
  • Must perform and act as a trademark
  • Cannot be like any other mark
  • Shouldn’t confuse the public about the source of the goods and services or be deceptively similar

2. Rights under Trademark Registration

A registration of a trademark grants the owner exclusive use of the mark in the classes of goods and services for which the mark has been registered.

3. Term of Protection

Trademark registration is granted to the owner of the mark such as an individual or a company for a period of 10 years, which can later be renewed.

4. Jurisdiction of Protection

The Indian Trademarks Act is territorial. However, through the Madrid Protocol, International Trademark registration has been made easier. But the cost of registration in different jurisdictions would be separate and must be borne by the applicant.

What is a Patent?

A patent is said to be a bundle of rights that are granted to the inventor of novel inventions, processes, and methods.

For a grant of a patent, the inventor would have to disclose the complete features and science behind the invention.

1. Scope and Parameters of Protection

To secure a patent protection, a Complete Specification application is mandatory. Unlike copyrights, patents are not automatic and are granted on first come first serve basis. To secure a patent, the invention must:

  • Be original and novel
  • Have industrial applicability (Practical and not theoretical)
  • Have a non-obvious inventive step

2. Rights of a Granted Patent

Once a patent is granted, the inventor has a ‘monopoly right’ over the invention. The inventor can prohibit others from using the invention, commercially gain from it, manufacturing and selling the invention.

3. Term of Protection

A patent is granted for a period of 20 years, and cannot be renewed beyond that. Once, the 20 years have eclipsed, the patent falls into public domain, and can be used by anyone for manufacturing and selling products.

However, to maintain the patent for a period of 20 years, a yearly renewal fee has to be met.

4. Jurisdiction of Protection

Just like Trademark law, Patent law is territorial. Through the Patent Cooperation Treaty, Indian applicants have a mechanism to seek protection in multiple countries. It provides an easy process for patent application in different countries and does not grant simultaneous patents. 






Copyrights are granted to creators to prevents others from exploiting the work or taking credit for the same.

Trademark separates a product or service of a brand from those of the competitors.

A patent is a legal grant of the government permitting the inventor to have a monopoly right over his invention.

Governing Act

Copyright Act, 1957

Trademarks Act, 1999

Indian Patents Act, 1970

The subject matter of protection

Copyright material includes Artistic and literary works, sound recording, cinematographic films, and musical compositions.

Can include words, phrases, letters, numerals, devices, figures, logos, color combinations, three-dimensional shapes or a combination thereof.

The patent can be sought for new inventions, methods, processes, and techniques.


Original works of the intellect, created with creativity and skill.

Any mark capable of distinguishing the Goods or Services of one person from those of another.

Covers only novel inventions, which have not been published anywhere else and has industrial applicability.

Used to

Prevents others exploiting original creation without paying for the same.

Protect the identity of the business and the public from confusion.

Prevents others from using or trading with the invention without paying royalties.


It’s an automatic protection. Registration is not mandatory, although, it's advisable.

Registration is required to seek protection. Although, remedies for passing-off can be sought under common law.

Filing of Complete Specification is mandatory for seeking a Patent Grant.


Copyrights are valid for a fixed period and cannot be renewed.

Trademark registration can be renewed indefinitely as long as the mark is used as a trademark.

Although Patents cannot be sought for more than 20 years, a renewal fee is to be paid every year for maintenance.

Term of Protection

60 years

10 years

20 years


Trademark, Copyrights, and Patents are all intangible intellectual property rights. Each of them confers the rights for a specific intangible asset. There is a clear differentiation in the scope of protection of each of these rights, they do not overlap each other. 

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