What is difference between a Copyright and Patent?


Copyright is a legal protection extended to the owner of the rights in an original work of creation. Copyright protects expressions and not the ideas. There is no copyright in an idea. Copyright comprises two main sets of rights: The economic rights and moral rights. Economic rights include the right of reproduction, broadcasting, public performance, adaptation, translation, public relation, public display, distribution and so on. Moral rights include the author’s right to object to any distortion, mutilation or other modification of his work that might be prejudicial to his honor and reputation.

  • Copyright subsists in the following classes of works:
  • Original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works
  • Cinematograph films
  • Sound recordings

The original creators of works protected by copyright, as also their legal heirs have certain basic rights. They hold the exclusive right to use or authorize others for use of the copyrighted material. The creator of the right can prohibit or authorize:

  • Reproduction in various forms such as printed publication or sound recording
  • Public performance as in a play or musical work
  • Recordings in a disc or cassette
  • Broadcasting by radio, cable or satellite
  • Translation into other languages
  • Adaptation, such as novel into screenplay

Subject to certain conditions, a fair deal for research, study, criticism, review and news reporting, as well as use of works in library and schools and in the legislatures, is permitted without specific permission of the copyright owners. In order to protect the interests of users, some exemptions have been prescribed in respect of specific uses of works enjoying copyright. E.g.

  • For the purpose of research or private study
  • For criticism or review
  • For reporting current events
  • In connection with judicial proceeding
  • Performance by an amateur club or society if the performance is given to a non-paying audience
  • The making of sound recordings of literary, dramatic or musical works under certain conditions.


A patent is an exclusive right granted by a country to the owner of an invention to make, use, manufacture and market the invention, provided the invention satisfies certain conditions stipulated in the law. Exclusive right implies that no one else can make, use, import manufacture or market the invention without the consent of the patent holder. This right is available for a limited period of time. A patent in the law is a property right and hence, can be gifted, inherited, assigned, sold or licensed. As the right is conferred by the State, it can be revoked by the State under very special circumstances even if the patent has been sold or licensed or manufactured or marketed in the meantime. There is nothing like a globalpatent or a world patent . The patent right is territorial in nature and inventors/their assignees will have to file separate patent applications in countries of their interest, along with necessary fees, for obtaining patents in those countries. However, there are some regional systems where by filing one application one could simultaneously obtain patents in the member countries of a regional system; European Patent Office is an example of a similar system.

  • Patent protection helps a patentee to enjoy his patent rights for a certain period of time and then after that period expires the patented invention is made available to the public so that they can use it. Patent protection serves the following purposes:
  • It gives protection to a patentable invention for the exclusive use of it by its inventor.
  • It gives a legal recognition to the invention and therefore the inventor’s rights are legally protected and can be enforced by him in the court of law.
  • It also makes others aware of the fact as to whom does the invention belong
  • It leads to development of the human society as patents are not protected for infinity and so after the expiry of the protection period the invention is made available to the public for use.

Patenting ones invention make useful data relating to the invention available to other inventors for further research and development.

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