Difference Between Patent and Copyright: Distinguish with Impact

Posted On : December 4, 2023
Difference Between Patent and Copyright: Distinguish with Impact
Listen to this article

Table of Contents


Intellectual property is a cornerstone of innovation and creativity in today's world. Two of the most commonly used forms of intellectual property protection are patents and copyrights. While both serve the purpose of safeguarding the rights of creators and inventors, they apply to different types of intellectual assets and have distinct characteristics. In this article, we will explore the fundamental differences between patents and copyrights, shedding light on their unique features and applications.

What is a Patent?

A patent is a form of intellectual property that provides exclusive rights to the inventor of a new and useful invention for a limited period, typically 20 years from the filing date of the patent application. The purpose of a patent is to encourage innovation by granting inventors the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, and importing their patented invention. There are different types of patents, including utility patents (for new and useful processes, machines, articles of manufacture, or compositions of matter), design patents (for new, original, and ornamental designs manufactured), and plant patents (for varieties of plants).

What is a Copyright?

A copyright, on the other hand, is a form of intellectual property that grants exclusive rights to the creator of an original work. This includes literary works, artistic works, musical compositions, and other creative expressions. Copyright protection is automatic upon the creation of the work and generally lasts for the lifetime of the creator plus an additional 70 years. Copyright gives the creator the exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, perform, and display their work. Unlike patents, copyright protection is not granted for ideas or concepts but rather for the specific expression of those ideas.

Key Difference Between Patent and Copyright

The following are some of the key differences between patent and copyright;

  1. Nature of Protection

    Patents and copyrights protect different types of intellectual property. Patents are primarily used to safeguard inventions and innovations. They grant inventors exclusive rights to their inventions, ensuring that others cannot make, use, or sell the patented invention without permission. In contrast, copyrights are designed to protect original works of authorship. This includes literary, artistic, musical, and other creative works, granting the creator exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and publicly display their work.

  2. Eligibility

    One significant distinction lies in the eligibility requirements for patents and copyrights. To obtain a patent, the invention must meet specific criteria, including novelty, non-obviousness, and utility. It must be a new, useful, and inventive creation that is not already in the public domain. Copyrights, on the other hand, are automatically granted to creators the moment their work is fixed in a tangible medium, without the need for formal registration or meeting specific eligibility criteria. This means that almost any original work is eligible for copyright protection.

  3. Duration of Protection

    The duration of protection varies between patents and copyrights. Patents typically have a finite term of protection, which varies depending on the type of patent. Utility patents, which are the most common, have a term of 20 years from the date of filing. On the other hand, design patents have a term of 15 years from the date of issuance. In contrast, copyright protection is automatic and endures for the lifetime of the creator plus an additional 70 years. In the case of works created by a corporation, the copyright lasts for 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.

  4. Public Disclosure

    Patents and copyrights differ in their approach to public disclosure. When an inventor applies for a patent, they are required to provide detailed information about the invention, including its functionality and design. This information becomes part of the public record, encouraging knowledge sharing and technological advancement. Copyrights, however, do not require public disclosure. The creator retains the right to control the extent to which their work is shared or kept private.

  5. Exclusive Rights

    Both patents and copyrights grant exclusive rights to the respective owners. Patents give inventors the exclusive right to make, use, and sell their invention, and they can license these rights to others. Copyrights provide creators with the exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, perform, and display their work. However, the scope of exclusive rights varies; patents protect against any use of the patented invention, while copyrights generally only protect against exact or substantially similar copies of a work.

  6. Registration and Costs

    Obtaining a patent usually involves a formal application process with the relevant government agency, such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This process can be lengthy and costly, involving patent attorney fees and filing fees. Copyrights, on the other hand, are automatically granted upon the creation of a work and do not require formal registration. While creators can register their copyright for additional legal benefits, it is not mandatory and is relatively affordable in comparison to patent applications.


In summary, patents and copyrights are essential tools for protecting intellectual property, but they serve distinct purposes and offer different types and durations of protection. Patents are designed to protect inventions and innovations, while copyrights safeguard original works of authorship. Understanding the differences between these two forms of protection is crucial for creators and inventors seeking to secure their intellectual property rights and benefit from their creations. Whether you're an inventor or an artist, it's essential to choose the right form of protection based on the nature of your work and your long-term objectives. For more information related to intellectual property, you should contact a technology lawyer or IPR lawyer in your city. For example, if you reside in Kolkata, you must contact a IPR lawyer in Kolkata for insightful information.

Written By:


Recommended Free Legal Advices
question markGot Copyright Claim on an uploaded youtube video 1 Response(s)
Dear client, As you would be aware that patent or copyright ate based on tue novelty amd uniqueness of what you create. In case that is present in your software then you can go for IPR
question markCentral Govt Patent: What is the inventor entitled to? 1 Response(s)
Dear Sir, You may get file Writ Petition and the High Court will give some relief to your father. For full procedure contact me on mobile through Vidhikarya. Rate me Five Star * Please visit the following link. https://vidhikarya.com/LawyerRating/9506c43f5d0b2d266a07
question markCopyright issue in providing solution of a textbook 1 Response(s)
Dear Sir, Yes, definitely it is infringement of copyrights of such text books. If your business is small scale nobody will care but if it is roaring business then you have to face trouble.
question markCopyright issues 4 Response(s)
If you made any legal agreement between both companies then no need for it
question markCopyright problem for mobile game 1 Response(s)
Dear Sir, You must be very careful and avoid similar characters but such questions arise only when you go on public domain. =================================== I could have explained more if background is known to me. You are supposed to give more details to get detailed answer. Please be inform that free questions deserves to be attended on priority basis so be brief but disclose summary of your case.