Patent vs Copyright vs Trademark

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Patent vs Copyright vs Trademark

Patent, copyright and trademark are all types of intellectual property rights that provide the creator an exclusive right over the use of his/her creation of mind for a limited amount of time. Entrepreneurs who are seeking to register intellectual property must know the differences between the three and obtain the right registrations to protect his/her intellectual property. In this article, we look at the differences between patent, copyright and trademark in India.

What is Patent?

Patent is an exclusive right for an invention provided by the law for a limited time to the Patentee. By patenting an invention, the patentee is able to control the making, using, selling or importing of the patented product or process for producing that product without his/her consent. An invention relating either to a product or process that is new, involving inventive step and capable of industrial application can be patented in India.

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a right given by the law to creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings. Copyright does not protect brands or names, short word combinations, slogans, short phrases, methods, plots or factual information. Copyright also does not protect ideas or concepts. Therefore, copyright is mainly used to protect the creativity of writers, artists, designers, dramatists, musicians, architects and producers of sound recordings, cinematograph films and computer software.

What is Trademark?

Trademark is a visual symbol which may be a  word signature, name, device, label, numerals or  combination of colours used by one Enterprise on goods or services or other articles of commerce to distinguish it from other similar goods or services originating from a different undertaking. Hence, trademarks are mostly used to protect brand names, business names, slogans and more.

Difference between Patent, Copyright and Trademark

Patent, Copyright and Trademark serve different and distinct uses. The validity of their life and requirement for application also vary as follows:

Main Use

Patent: Patents are mainly used to secure invention relating either to a product or process that is new which is capable of having industrial application. Softwares and business ideas cannot be patented in India. Know more about software patent in India.

The following are items NOT patentable in India as per Section 3 of the Patent Act, 1970:

  1. An invention which is frivolous or which claims anything obviously contrary to well established natural laws;
  2. An invention the primary or intended use or commercial exploitation of which could be contrary to public order or morality or which causes serious prejudice to human, animal or plant life or health or to the environment;
  3. The mere discovery of a scientific principle or the formulation of an abstract theory or discovery of any living thing or non-living substance occurring in nature;
  4. The mere discovery of a new form of a known substance which does not result in the enhancement of the known efficacy of that substance or the mere discovery of any new property or new use for a known substance or of the mere use of a known process, machine or apparatus unless such known process results in a new product or employs at least one new reactant.
  5. A substance obtained by a mere admixture resulting only in the aggregation of the properties of the components thereof or a process for producing such substance;
  6. The mere arrangement or re-arrangement or duplication of known devices each functioning independently of one another in a known way;
  7. A method of agriculture or horticulture;
  8. Any process for the medicinal, surgical, curative, prophylactic diagnostic, therapeutic or other treatment of human beings or any process for a similar treatment of animals to render them free of disease or to increase their economic value or that of their products.
  9. Plants and animals in whole or any part thereof other than micro­ organisms but including seeds, varieties and species and essentially biological processes for production or propagation of plants and animals;
  10. A mathematical or business method or a computer programme per se or algorithms;
  11. A literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or any other aesthetic creation whatsoever including cinematographic works and television productions;
  12. A mere scheme or rule or method of performing mental act or method of playing game;
  13. A presentation of information;
  14. Topography of integrated circuits;
  15. An invention which in effect, is traditional knowledge or which is an aggregation or duplication of known properties of traditionally known component or components.

Copyright: Copyright is mainly used to secure literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works including cinematograph films and sound recordings. A software or programme or tables and databases can be registered as a ‘literary work’ under the Copyright Act. However to obtain a copyright for the software, the source code for the software must be submitted to the Copyright Office along with the application.

Trademark: Trademarks are mostly used by individuals, commercial and non-commercial entities to protect brand names, business names, slogans and more. An idea or concept or software cannot be trademarked. However, a unique name given to a software or idea or concept can be trademarked.


The review and acceptance of patent and trademark applications are controlled by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks, Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The review and acceptance of Copyright applications is controlled by the Copyright Office, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development.


Patent: Patent registrations have a validity of 20 years from the date of filing of patent application, irrespective of whether it is filed with provisional or complete specification. In case the Patent Application is filed under the  However, in case of international patent applications filed under PCT, the validity of the patent is for a term of 20 years beginning from date of international filing.

Copyright: The general rule is that copyright lasts for 60 years. In the case of original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works the 60-year period is counted from the year following the death of the author. In the case of cinematograph films, sound recordings, photographs, posthumous publications, anonymous and pseudonymous publications, works of government and works of international organisations, the 60-year period is counted from the date of publication.

Trademark: Trademark registrations are valid for a period of 10 year from date of application. A registered trademark’s validity can be extended at the end of ten years by filing a trademark renewal application.

To register a trademark or copyright in India, visit or talk to an IndiaFilings Business Expert.

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