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The Difference Between Patent, Trademark and Copyright

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Author: Mark Dacanay

Patent, trademark and copyrights have been used interchangeably by a lot of people without really realizing that each term is different from the others. Although all of it protects the creative and intellectual rights of a person or a company, each term is inherently separate from the others.

Here is a general comparison of the three.


Patent refers to the exclusive rights given by the State to an inventor for a limited amount of time in exchange for the disclosure of the invention.

Normally, a patent application contains claims defining the invention that should be new, inventive, useful and industrially applicable.

The exclusive rights given to a patentee protects his/her invention from being made, used, sold or distributed without his/her permission.

The following are the different types of patents:

• Provisional patents - A provisional patent application (PPA) is used when you have an idea but do not have the resources needed for filing a patent. This will establish a date of application. Just be careful as the actual patent should be exactly the same as the provisional patent.

• Utility patents - This is the most common patent which is usually valid for about 20 years except for drugs, medical equipment and devices, etc.

• Plant patents - Cover plant varieties which have been asexually produced. This includes seedlings, hybrids, etc.

• Design patents - Covers new original ornamental design for a product to be manufactured.


This refers to a distinctive logo or indicator that is being used by an individual, company or other entities to identify that the product or services with which the trademark can be seen comes from a unique source, and separates that product or service from other entities.

Trademark is an intellectual property, usually a name, word, phrase, design, image, logo or a combination of said elements.

Trademarks are usually assigned the following symbols:

• TM - Unregistered trademark. This is a mark used to promote or brand products.

• SM - Unregistered service mark. This is a mark used to promote or brand services.

• ® - Registered Trademark


Copyright gives the creator of an original work exclusive right in relation to that work for a certain period of time. This should include publication, distribution, and adaptation.

After the period lapses, the work is said to enter public domain.

Examples of works where copyright is applicable to are music, movies, software, paintings, drama, books and many more others.

Copyright applies to all expressible ideas or information which is substantive, discrete and fixed in a medium.

Copyright also recognize the moral right of the creator to be credited for his work.

It has been internationally standardized and the exclusive rights to a work can last fifty to even a hundred years after the creator's death, or a shorter period of time for anonymous and corporate authorship.

However, even if there is a copyright, it cannot cover the whole subject matter. For example, with regard to a copyrighted book; other entities cannot copy the wordings from the said book. But they are free to read the book and publish some of the idea or concepts in their own interpretation and words.

About the author: Visit our website at to help you understand patent, trademark and copyright. Call our toll free number for legal assistance.

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