How To distinguish Trademarks from Copyrights and Patents?

Lawyers from VakilSearch guide you

A Trademark is a badge of exclusivity given to a distinct mark, logo or sign which a business group or individual could use to distinguish its products and services. A trademark is unique and serves as an indication regarding the origin of a product or a service.

For high value products or services, a trademark conveys quality and reliability. Standard examples that come to mind include Mercedes-Benz, Puma and Apple. Each of these companies has built up a reputation where they delight customers with their products. Apple stands for a seamless fusion of technology and aesthetics, Puma for great quality footwear and Mercedes-Benz oozes class. Simply then, a trademark represents everything a company stands for.

For this reason, registration and granting of trademark is governed strictly by law. According to the Trademarks Act, 1999, a trademark is granted for a period of 10 years and can be renewed after the expiry of that period.

A trademark could potentially consist of a device, brand, heading, label, ticket, name, signature, word, letter, numeral, shape of goods, packaging or even a combination of  colours. Broadly however, we divide trademark applications into logos, slogans and words businesses use.

Distinguishing Trademarks from Copyrights and Patents

Copyright and Patents are two other instruments which can be used to protect a company’s intellectual property. In addition to trademarks, they are the trinity of intellectual property rights protection. While the differences between them can prove to be very confusing at times for entrepreneurs, knowledge of these instruments of protection is vital to any business.

In the Indian context, a Patent is exclusively granted for inventions which can be put to commercially useful application according to the Patents Act, 1970. It can be said that a Patent is a “bundle of rights” given to a group or an individual when he / it “invents” something.

Patents give inventors an impetus to come up with new ideas as they can profit from them. In India, patents are generally granted for a period of twenty years from the day of application for the patent.

A copyright is a legal device which helps in the protection of ‘literary and artistic’ activities. The scope of the activities which can be labeled as artistic varies but broadly, it could include literary pieces, paintings, photographs, musical work, lectures & speeches. A copyright grants certain rights to the creator of the idea or the art. It also controls the manner in which a creator’s work can be adapted.

In India, a Copyright subsists from the day of creating the work to the end of sixty years following the death of the creator, with a few exceptions (according to Sections 22 and 23 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957). People interested in translating or adapting a copyrighted work can apply for license under the Copyright Act.

To be continued…

In this part, we started with some insights into trademarks. We will continue this with information on how to apply for a trademark and also, what happens if two businesses or people apply for the same trademark.

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