Both patents and copyrights fall under the umbrella of intellectual property. As unique products of creative minds, the inventions or works they protect belong to their creator, who can therefore claim sole ownership. Often the terms patent and copyright are erroneously used interchangeably. There are distinct guidelines that distinguish each of these.
The Copyright is an exclusive right for literary, artistic, dramatic or musical creations. The copyright:
- Offers extensive protection for a created work of art, music, or literature. It gives the author exclusive rights to reproduce, publish or perform all or part of the original work.
- However, if the work was created under contract by an employee of a company (eg. newspaper company or movie studio), the copyright may belong to the company itself.
- People who wish to use the work must either pay for it or be granted permission from the author.
- Copyrights afford protection for the life of the creator plus 50 more years, which is much longer than patent protection.
- In addition, rather than needing to apply for copyright protection numerous times in individual countries, one copyright is good for all treaty countries, i.e. those countries that belong to the Berne Convention, the World Trade Organization, or a Universal Copyright Convention country.
- Even when the author is unknown, protection by copyright is at least 50 years.
The Patent is an exclusive right for an invention that is a product or process. The patent:
- Offers protection for newly invented technology, processes, or products. Invented items must be truly unique, useful, and demonstrate ingenuity. They must fall into one of the following categories: product (tangible item), composition of matter (combination of materials used to perform a single purpose), machine, process (new way to make something), or an improvement on any of the above.
- Patents provide protection for 20 years from the filing date of an application.
- A patent provides protection only in the country in which it is granted. In order to gain patent protection in other countries, the inventor must either file in individual countries, or apply under the PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty).
Looking for assistance obtaining patent or copyright protection? Try Vince, the Patent Guy of Innovative Licensing.
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