Intellectual Property: Difference Between Trademarks, Copyrights, and Patents

By: Sam Mollaei

Considering the complexity of intellectual property law, it is understandable that many individuals like artists, authors, bloggers, journalist, etc. are likely to confuse the terms Patent, Copyright, and Trademark. Often you may hear them speak of “patenting a book” or “copywriting a new gadget”. These are legal terms that are on occasion confused by a lot of people. In this post, you will get to know the difference between:

>> Patent

>> Copyright

>> Trademark

So what is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property is the ownership of tangible and non-physical goods. Since intellectual property is intangible, then it becomes a lot more difficult to protect it as compared to other kinds of property.

A simpler definition of intellectual property is something that is created by an individual’s or professional’s mind. However, intellectual property does not protect the bare ideas; rather it is basically the expression or the symbolic power/recognizability of the ideas that have been protected.

The intellectual property, in this case, is the design of a car that is patented. But not the idea of the car itself. It can be the painting of a beautiful house that is copyrighted but not the idea of the house. The intellectual property is the consumer recognizable logo that has been trademarked but not the idea of the logo. Therefore, the intellectual property only protects how we can express and identify ideas in concrete ways. But not the idea itself.

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is a device, a symbol, a name that is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the particular product or service that will distinguish it from the goods and services of others. The trademark rights that are offered to a company may be used to prevent other businesses from making the same goods or rather from selling the same goods or services under a clearly different mark.

The trademarks protect any symbol that shows or indicates the source of the origin. While the trademark of a particular company may be very important to the owner of the company, its ultimate purpose is to protect the consumer, by informing them about the origin of the product.

What is Copyright?

The copyright can protect the specific creative expression of an idea that can be through any medium of artistic or creative expression. Examples can be paintings, writings, sculptures, photographs, software, etc. It is generally a form of protection that is offered to the authors of original works of the authorship.