Patents Vs. Copyrights
Although both patents and copyrights give the holders exclusive rights to their ideas, there are differences in two key areas:
Defining The Patent
A patent is the right granted to a person or company by the government, to exclude others from making, using or selling an invention for a particular time.
3 Distinct Types Of Patents
A patent, which is usually used to protect inventions, allows the holder to challenge any use of the invention by other persons.
A patent can be any of three types: A utility patent, a design patent, and a plant patent.
A utility patent protects new inventions for useful processes, improvement on old inventions and machines.
A design patent protects the designs of a manufactured product, protecting its appearance and not its functionality.
A plant patent protects the invention of new and distinct plant that is asexually reproducible.
Defining The Copyright
A copyright, on the other hand, is a legal right that allows a person or company to produce, reproduce and sell the expression of an idea exclusively.
A copyright is used to protect artistic and creative expressions of ideas such as writings, paintings, photographs, software, and so on.
Difference Between Copyrights And Patents
Patents, unlike copyrights, protect the idea itself and not just its expression.
For instance, a company can patent an idea of a particular process for the invention of a product, preventing others from using the same process, within a particular period of time.
Copyrights protect only tangible forms of ideas or ideas expressed in physical form.
Also, a copyright does not prohibit others from producing their own version of an idea. It just protects others from reproducing an already copyrighted version of the idea.
For instance, a book on computers by writer "A" is automatically copyrighted, and cannot be reproduced in its exact form by writer "B" without permission from writer "A".
However, under copyright law, writer "B" can also write his own book on computers without having infringed on the rights of writer "A".
A patent must be registered for an invention to be protected from being made, used or sold by others.
A copyright, however, does not have to be registered as long as the work to be copyrighted is in a tangible form.
Although registering a copyright is not absolutely necessary, steps can be taken to make sure that it is clear that a work is copyrighted, such as the inclusion of the word "copyright" or its symbol, the year of publication, and the name of the copyright holder on the piece of work.
It is advisable that an author register his work with his country’s copyright office to provide better legal leverage in case of a dispute.
Patents protect inventions for 20 years from the date of filing, and can be re-registered if the holder wants to keep the patent.
Conversely, copyrights protect original works of individuals throughout their lifetime plus 70 years, and companies, for 95 to 120 years.
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