The Difference Between Copyright, Patent, and Trademark

What is the difference Between Copyright, Patent, and Trademark? Let us find out.

As globalization and industrialization is on a steady rise all over the world, we usually hear these three terms in the business world. But do you understand the difference between these three terms? People often confuse between all the aforementioned intellectual property forms. Although there are stark similarities in their functioning, still there are notable differences in their operations. Moreover, the understanding of the difference becomes more important if you are planning to start your own business.

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Why Intellectual Property Rights are Important?

Are you a business owner looking to protect your business? Every business has some intangible assets either in form of a brand logo, marketing slogans or phrases, packaging designs, or signs that make your brand look distinguished and eye-catching in public domain.  But how do you prevent someone else from using these unique identifiers of your business? In this article, learn how you can protect various assets with these three forms of intellectual property.

Now, let us understand the difference between Copyright, Patent, and Trademark one by one.

Did you know that two companies have same name without infringing the laws? Read this article to know how


A copyright is a bundle of rights that protects the original work from duplication. Thus, a copyright vests the creator of the original work with a right to call it their property. Therefore, it is like a stamp of ownership of the product or service. In addition, the exclusive rights given to the copyright owner include the right to produce derivatives of the original work, mass reproduction of the original work, distribute photocopies of the original work under legal norms and regulations. Further, copyright can be sold or transferred to someone else. Under the copyright law, a copyright can be granted for the following:

  • Graphic Designs
  • Video Films
  • Software Products
  • Content in any form
  • Photography
  • Audio Recordings


It is a form of intellectual property that provides the exclusive rights for an invention (product or process) that introduces a fresh solution to a problem. Thus, a patent owner is someone who has invented either an innovative product or resulted in technological up-gradation in already existing technology. Moreover, a patent can be granted for inventions such as:

  • Machines
  • Manufactures
  • Matter compositions
  • Upgrade  already existing processes.

In addition, the patent mechanism is related to the copyright protection mechanism in the case of software products.

In the USA, the patent granting authority is U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that grants trademarks and patents. In most countries including the United States, the process for getting a patent and associated legal rights is long-running, complicated due to legal complications, patent documents and patent searches involved, and expensive as well. The process includes many stages such as patent search, extensive researching, filing applications for patents, and monitoring to name a few. This is the reason why most people hire professional patent law firms to sail through the process and get a patent. Moreover, patent examiners at USPTO can even reject the patent application if any issue is found. Thus, to become a patent holder, hiring a professional patent firm is a good option. 


Trademarks are those words, phrases, symbols, and designs that distinguish the products (goods and services) of a business from others. However, the trademarks are similar to copyrights in the fact that the person who has a trademark doesn’t need to register for the service. Moreover, the registration process for the registration of copyright and trademarks is also the same. The legal protections under trademark mechanism can be granted for wide variety of marks such as:

  • Slogan
  • Word
  • Phrase
  • Logo
  • Brand or Business Name

The Difference between Copyright, Patent, and Trademarks

Criteria of ComparisonCopyrightPatentTrademarks
What can be protected?An original creation of the owner such as literary works, artifacts, sculptures, books, designs, paintings, songs, videos, other forms of visual representation.Inventions or innovative up-gradations such as processes, machines, composition of matter, manufactures.A word, phrase, logo, symbol, business name, unique slogans, and brand designs differentiate a business’ identity from others.
Criteria to be ProtectedWork must be original and tangibleThe invention must be fresh, not obvious, or innovative.The mark must be distinctive, i.e., with the ability to distinguish the brand from others.
Protection PeriodCreator’s/Owner’s Lifetime (plus 70 years for books)20 years from the date of its registration10 years from the date of its registration. Renewal is possible after every 10 years.
Exclusive IP rights under Legal Regulations-Right to Control the Reproduction
-To control the production of derivatives
-Right to control distribution and public performance
-Right to control the public display
To prevent from producing, selling, and importing the patented invention.-Right to use the mark (service marks too)
-Prevent others from using such similar trademarks that may cause likelihood-of-confusion among the consumers.
How work is protectedCopyright is automatically assigned to the creator as soon as an original work is created. Thus, there is no need of copyright registration. For getting the patent rights under the patent protection mechanism, you need to register with the concerned authorities. E.g., USPTO, WIPO, UK Intellectual Property Office.Similarly, one needs to register the mark for protection. E.g. USPTO.
Comparison Chart between Copyright, Patent, and Trademarks

We hope that you are clear with the the difference between Copyright, Patent, and Trademark by now.

How to Choose the Perfect Intellectual Property Tool

Thus, while choosing the mechanism to protect your intellectual property rights, one should be thorough with the difference between Copyright, Patent, and Trademark and their applicability.

  • If you have created a video, audiobook, fiction or non-fiction novel, documentary, etc., then a copyright is the most suitable option to protect your original work
  • If you have invented a new process or the machine that eases the existing work or improves the process, then the patent is the perfect option to protect your invention.
  • At last, if you have a business, product, or service; then a trademark is the most appropriate IP tool to distinguish your business and also build a unique identity in consumers’ minds.

Why Choose TMReady?

If you own a business and looking to build its identity in the market, then getting a trademark is the safest bet. This is because a trademark will build a unique image of your products goods and services) and also improves consumer retention. But, getting a trademark is a long-term process involving many legal and formal complications. Also, USPTO and other trademark offices end up refusing the trademark application because of avoidable mistakes. 

You can consider TMReady for all your trademark related needs. Our experienced and professional team provides effective services for trademark search, trademark registration, and trademark monitoring needs. Moreover, we also take care of post-trademark monitoring needs to ensure no competitor is infringing upon your brand’s unique trademark. Moreover, our reasonable priced packages starting from $55 for a whole year are cherry on the cake. Do you have more questions? Visit us and ask away

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