How Does A Copyright Differ From A Patent?

Intellectual property rights include trademarks, patents, and copyrights, each of which has its own purpose and scope.

I will explain the difference between two of the most common forms of intellectual property rights: copyright and patent.

These two terms are often confused or used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.

They protect different types of works, have different requirements and processes, and grant different rights and benefits to the owners.

How Does A Copyright Differ From A Patent?Courtesy:ebizfiling
How Does A Copyright Differ From A Patent?
Courtesy:ebizfiling

What is a Copyright?

copyright is a form of protection conferred to the creator of original work, which excludes others from performing, selling, or using the work without the creator’s permission.

The work must be fixed in a tangible or digital medium, such as paper, film, or a computer file.

The types of work that can be protected by a copyright include:

  • Artistic and literary works, such as books, poems, paintings, sculptures, and photographs
  • Musical works, such as songs, lyrics, and musical scores
  • Dramatic works, such as plays, scripts, and screenplays
  • Cinematographic works, such as movies, documentaries, and animations
  • Sound recordings, such as CDs, podcasts, and audiobooks
  • Computer software, such as programs, applications, and games
  • Website content, such as articles, blogs, and graphics

The creator of the work is the original owner of the copyright, unless the work is made for hire, in which case the employer or the person who commissioned the work is the owner.

The rights that the owner has include:

  • The right to reproduce the work
  • The right to distribute the work to the public
  • The right to perform the work publicly
  • The right to display the work publicly
  • The right to make derivative works based on the original work

These rights are exclusive, meaning that the owner can prevent others from doing any of the above activities without their consent.

However, there are some exceptions and limitations, such as fair use, which allows the use of the work for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.

What is a Patent?

patent is a form of protection granted to the inventor of a new, useful, and non-obvious invention, discovery, or process, which excludes others from making, using, or selling the invention without the inventor’s permission.

The invention must be novel, meaning that it has not been disclosed or known before, useful, meaning that it has a practical application or benefit, and non-obvious, meaning that it is not something that a person skilled in the field would easily come up with.

The types of inventions that can be protected by a patent include:

  • Machines, such as engines, robots, and appliances
  • Processes, such as methods of manufacturing, treating, or testing
  • Products, such as chemicals, drugs, and materials
  • Designs, such as the shape, appearance, or ornamentation of manufactured objects
  • Plants, such as new varieties of plants that are asexually reproduced

The inventor of the invention is the original owner of the patent, unless the invention is made for hire, in which case the employer or the person who commissioned the invention is the owner.

The rights that the owner has include:

  • The right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention
  • The right to license or assign the invention to others
  • The right to sue for infringement if others violate the patent rights

These rights are also exclusive, meaning that the owner can prevent others from doing any of the above activities without their consent.

However, there are some exceptions and limitations, such as experimental use, which allows the use of the invention for research or testing purposes.

How Do They Differ?

Now that we have seen what a copyright and a patent are, let’s compare and contrast them on some key aspects:

  • Subject matter: A copyright protects the expression of an idea, while a patent protects the idea itself. For example, a book is an expression of an idea, while a solar panel is an idea.
  • Governing act: In India, the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 and the Indian Patent Act, 2005 are the respective laws that govern these two forms of intellectual property rights.
  • Registration: A patent requires registration with the Indian Patent Office, which involves filing an application, paying fees, and undergoing examination and publication. A copyright is automatic, meaning that it arises as soon as the work is created and fixed in a medium, and no formalities are required. However, registration is recommended for evidentiary and enforcement purposes.
  • Term: A patent is granted for a fixed term of 20 years from the date of filing the application, after which it expires and the invention becomes public domain. A copyright is granted for the life of the author plus 60 years, or 60 years from the date of publication in the case of works of joint authorship, anonymous works, posthumous works, cinematographic works, sound recordings, works of government and international organizations.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we have seen that a copyright and a patent are two different forms of intellectual property rights that protect different types of works and inventions.

They have different requirements, processes, and benefits, and they grant different rights and obligations to the owners.

I hope that this article has helped you understand the difference between these two terms and how they apply to your work.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. You should consult a qualified attorney before taking any action regarding your intellectual property rights.

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