Copyright vs Patent: Difference and Comparison

People often confuse the terms “copyright” and “patent” when discussing the laws protecting an individual’s innovation. These terms are often used interchangeably but are governed by two completely different laws under the same umbrella.


Law Quiz

Test your knowledge about topics related to law

1 / 10

What is the term for a wrongful act committed by one person that causes harm to another person for which the injured party can seek compensation?

2 / 10

What type of law governs the actions and decisions of administrative agencies?

3 / 10

________ is an unconscious ignorance or forgetfulness of the existence or non-existence of a fact, past pr present, material to the contract.

4 / 10

Who is the most important person in the decisions regarding bioethics

5 / 10

What type of law is based on judicial decisions and precedents?

6 / 10

What type of law governs the enforcement of contracts?

7 / 10

What is the term for a written agreement between two or more parties that is enforceable by law?

8 / 10

___________ consists in the omission of that diligence which is required by the nature of the obligation.

9 / 10

What type of law involves disputes between private parties?

10 / 10

The correct sequence in the formation of a contract is

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Key Takeaways

  1. Copyright is a legal right that protects original works of authorship, such as books, music, and art.
  2. A patent is a legal right that protects inventions and discoveries, such as machines, processes, and designs.
  3. Copyright protects artistic and creative works, while patents protect functional and technical innovations.

Copyright vs Patent

Copyright is a legal protection granted to the creators of original works of authorship. A patent is a legal protection granted to inventors for new, useful, and non-obvious inventions or discoveries. Copyright protects original works of authorship, while a patent protects new and useful inventions.

Copyright vs Patent

The main reason for the confusion arises from the common root to which the terms “copyright” and “patent” belong to intellectual property. Intellectual property is any work unique enough to be protected by the law.

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonCopyrightPatent
DefinitionCopyright laws protect the idea or expression of the work, such as any artist’s work.Patent laws protect innovation.
DurationCopyright laws last up to 50 or 70 years after the death of the original author of the “copyrighted” work. At the end of copyright protection, the work is in the public domain and can be used in any form by anyone without any permission or fee.Patent laws last up to 20 years, but the duration is subject to the patent issued in the respective country. After the lapse of the duration of the patent, anybody can copy the patent.
UsageCopyright laws protect the expression of ideas. This can be in any form, such as computer programs, music composition, and literature, to name a few.Patent laws provide a market monopoly for the invention while protecting the idea of driving it.
ProtectionExceptional innovations, discoveries, recorded or written work, paintings, designs, and other ideas or creations.Various big and small processes of agriculture, medicine, and chemical industries, to name a few.

What is Copyright?

Copyright laws protect the expression of ideas, of artists like book authors, painters, chefs, etc. The protection of the expression is specified in the guidelines.

Guidelines need to be taken into account while copying a substantial part of the original work and publishing it. Copyright laws do not protect the process involved in making copyrighted work.

Copyright laws have moral and economic rights. Economic rights are the rights to copy or publish a substantial part of the work.

Moral rights talk about how they adapted work from the copyrighted work does justice to the original copyright. It also consists of the moral right to be listed as an author for the adapted work.

Fair use is an exclusion of the rights provided by the copyright. People can copy minimal work to cite in research or review reports.

Cookbooks are a great example of establishing apparent differences between the idea and the expression of an idea. A Cookbook is an expression of ideas (expression of recipes), and they cannot be reprinted.

People follow the recipes and mimic the expression of ideas in the cookbook. If the recipes were patented, people could not replicate the recipes without prior authorization from the patent owner.


What is a Patent?

Patent laws are stricter when it comes to the protection of ideas. Patent laws stop the usage of the idea in any form. It cannot be regenerated based on the same idea behind the already existing patent.

This stops the patent from infringement and secures the monopoly for the idea in the global economic market.

Other people under the Patent License can use patents. Under this license, anyone wishing to use the patent must pay money to the owner.

Patents cover technical processes or products which are considered unexampled. Patents cover most industries like electronics, transport, medicine, and agriculture. Anything can be patented, from a small nut to an entire powerhouse.

To patent any invention, it should satisfy the following:

  1. It must be new, original, and not very obvious.
  2. An innovative step must be there.
  3. It must be helpful for application in any industry.

Main Differences Between Copyright and Patent

  1. Copyright law protects literary, dramatic, musical, and other similar artistic creations, whereas patent laws stress protecting inventions.
  2. There is no need to register copyright because it comes into existence with its creation. A national or international patent organization must register patents before they can be protected by the laws governing them.
  3. The practice of the idea is the main objective of the patent. On the other hand, it’s the expression of the idea focused on the copyright end.
  4. Copyrights are the special rights given to the creator of the original work, which dismisses the performance and production of the work. Patents are legal grants given by the government to stop the manufacture and trading of an invention for a set duration of time.
  5. Copyright is granted for 50-70 years after the death of the original creator of the copyright. However, a patent is valid to the author for 20 years.
Difference Between Copyright and Patent
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