​​Comparing Intellectual Property Protections – Copyright, Trademark, Utility Patent, and Design Patent

​​Comparing Intellectual Property Protections – Copyright, Trademark, Utility Patent, and Design Patent

If you are a business owner, you should familiarize yourself with the four types of intellectual property, otherwise known as IP.  Several entrepreneurs don’t know how to protect their ideas, and this guide will ensure that they are well-educated.

Before we get into details, let us look at the four types of intellectual properties

  • Trademarks
  • Copyrights
  • Patents
  • Registered Designs

If you’re a startup, it’s vital that you trademark your firm as this improves your company’s valuation and competitiveness. The Startup India Action Plan has planned out multiple measures for the facilitation, stability, and Trademark filing for startups and designs by startups.

Trademarks are permanent, but require to be renewed periodically. Hence, it is wise to use the services of a renowned intellectual property service provider with a great reputation.

Copyrights: A copyright is fixed in a physical medium of expression, thus enabling the holder to exclusively reproduce, distribute, perform, and display the copyrighted work.

Copyrights are designed as the ownership and rights for an original piece of work. This work can be a movie, a script, a book, a musical score, or other creative works. The online copyright registration lets the holder have exclusive rights to reproduce, perform, distribute, and display the work.   

Taking a cue from the English Copyright Act of 1911, the first ever Copyright Act in India was enacted in 1914. Once India achieved independence, the Copyright Act of 1957 was enacted and has seen amendments being made to it six times, the last being in 2012.

Unlike a trademark, a copyright just has a single symbol, i.e., ©. The symbol can be placed on the original piece of work that has been created.

What are utility patents? These patents are usually associated with commercial inventions and creations. Utility patents need not be the final product, but can also include unique processes.

Intellectual property ranges from literature and images to processes. When one says intellectual property rights, it means the legal right over the said intellectual property creation here the person has ownership of the creation. It must be noted that to have ownership over a creation one does not need to be the creator of the property themselves.

Design patents protect designs made in the form of drawings or renders. These may be two dimensional or three dimensional.

While the definitions can help you understand the basics of intellectual property,  the table below will give you a key understanding on how you can differentiate between the four of them.


Copyright Trademark Utility patent Design registration

Who is it for?

Authors, composers, architects, artists Business owners, products Inventors Designers

What does it protect?

Written works, plays, music pieces, sounds, choreography, photographs and other creative works Names, words, sounds, pictures, logos, symbols, slogans Machines, processes, chemical compositions, formulae

Shapes, pattens


The copyright protects most of the works that are available in tangible form. These include song lyrics, photographs, graphics, sculptures, a piece of architecture, sound recordings, drama, choreographed works, parodies, and signatures.   If you don’t register a trademark, then your business becomes liable to lawsuits from competitors  that have registered trademarks. In that case, you as a business will have to rethink your name or go back to square one and rebrand your company. However, by trademarking a company or organization name, one makes its services and products unique  You need to patent your invention so that the idea is not stolen by a rival company. If you have a patent, and someone uses your idea without your authorization, then you have the legal right to claim damages

A design doesn’t have protection under the law unless it is registered. Without the design being registered, it may be freely used by anybody without any repercussions under the law. 

Duration For life 10 years, following which you renew the trademark A utility patent in India is protected for a period of twenty years. 

This may be extended by another five years by paying a certain fee and filing an application for the same


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