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The article is written by Nikhil Thakur from Manav Rachna University. In this article, the author has briefly explained the major differences between Copyright Laws and Intellectual Property Rights Laws.


Intellectual property rights (IPR) around the globe have played a paramount role in protecting and safeguarding technological, scientific, and medical innovation. In India, numerous Intellectual Property Rights legislation has been enacted to comply and cope up with the obligations arising due to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspect of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

Around the globe, IPR has become the world’s fastest-growing law field and hence the demand for Intellectual Property Rights expertise has augmented. The Intellectual Property Rights dominion is vast and copyright is a part of it. Intellectual property has been demarcated into two basic categories, that are industrial property and copyright.

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Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), intellectual property means and refers to the formation of the mind, namely invention: literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names, and images used in commerce.

Intellectual Property Rights are categorized into two main heads, that are:

Industrial design

Industrial design encompasses inventions, trademarks, patents, and geographical indications within its ambit. 


Copyright encompasses literary and artistic works like novels, poems, plays, films, etc. within its purview.


Following the words of WIPO, copyright is an exclusive right granted to the owner of literary and artistic works. Films, plays, novels, painting, music, computer programs, maps, advertisement are covered under the ambit of literary and artistic work. In India, Section 14 of the Copyright Act, 1957 defines what is copyright.


According to WIPO, trademarks mean a sign, symbols, logos, and sounds that helps one enterprise to distinguish its marks from that of the other enterprise. In India, Section 2(1)(ZB) of the Trademark Act, 1999 defines what is a trademark.


According to WIPO, the patent is also an exclusive right that is granted in favour of the inventor of a new product or service. Section 2(1)(m) of the Patent Act, 1970 defines patents.

Industrial design

WIPO defines industrial design from the point of view of the ornamental aspect of an article that may be three-dimensional, two-dimensional, linear, etc. Section 2(d) of the Design Act, 2000 defines design.

Geographical indication

According to WIPO, geographical indication relates to the origin of the product or having a particular geographical origin. Section 2(1)(e) of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 defines geographical indication.

Differentiating between Copyright and other Intellectual Property Rights

Copyright and Patent

  • As mentioned previously, copyright is an exclusive right granted to the owner of literary and artistic works. Films, plays, novels, painting, music, computer programs, maps, advertisement are covered under the ambit of literary and artistic work, irrespective of the fact they are published or not. Further, in copyright, the expression shown is protected and not the idea behind that expression, while in the patent, the idea itself is protected.
  • The owner or the holder of the copyright shall have the exclusive right to publish, republish, distribute and recreate the work. Most importantly, copyright comes into play only when the work is tangible. Soon after the completion of the work in any form, the copyright comes to play. 
  • Unlike copyright, patent approval is a long process and may be time-consuming, but if in case the patent is approved, the holder or the owner of such patent shall have the exclusive right to utilize the said invention according to his/her requirements. That means approval of the patent allows the holder of the invention to have unhindered authority over its invention. Another important aspect concerning a patent is that it shall be transformed into a materialistic form that redresses the issues. 
  • The key difference between the copyright and the patent is that copyright is governed through the Copyright Act, 1957 while the patent is governed through Patent Act, 1970.
  • Copyright is a legal right, conferring upon the holder the right to publish, republish, distribute, etc. while, a patent is a statutory right granted by the government to safeguard the owner’s invention for a limited period.
  • The scope of copyright is limited because it applies to only literary and artistic works. On the other hand, the patent applies to any sort of invention, technical, medical, and other enhancement.
  • Between copyright and the patent, there is a vast difference of year of its applicability, as copyright is granted for 60 years while the patent is permitted only for 20 years.
  • In copyright, selling and distributing without the assent of the owner is prohibited, while in the patent, the stealing of the same is prohibited including selling and disclosing important information related to the patented article to the general public.
  • An artist can claim copyright over his/her work, while for claiming a patent it is important that the article for which the owner is seeking a patent shall not be available to the public.

Copyright and Trademark

  • Nowadays, people are becoming more brand conscious. This shows how trademarks and copyright influence the purchasing behaviour of the customers. Hence, it becomes pivotal to clearly understand the demarcations between copyright and trademark.
  • A trademark means a sign, symbols, logos, and sounds that help one enterprise to distinguish its goods and services from that of the other enterprise. Trademark grants an exclusive right to use the goods and services uninterrupted or without hindrance. Copyright, on the other hand, is another tool of intellectual property that protects and safeguards the literary and artistic work of the owner or the producer.
  • The primary difference between the copyright and the trademark is that copyright is enshrined under the Copyright Act, 1957, while trademark is enshrined under the Trademark Act, 1999.
  • Though both copyright and trademark are intellectual property rights and are intangible, they safeguard and protect different categories of products and similarly have a different registration method.
  • The objective of the Trademark Act is to protect and safeguard the trade name, logo, signs, symbols and sounds, while the scope of the Copyright Act is restricted to literary and artistic work.
  • In copyright, the owner has the exclusive right to produce, reproduce, distribute, sell, etc. On the other hand, in trademark, the owner has the exclusive right over its product and services.
  • Particularly, a trademark allows the owner to restrict others from using similar marks or text. The main purpose of granting or acquiring a trademark is to establish a brand name and having protection attached to it. While in copyright, the owner is allowed to stop the other from publishing, republishing, distributing, etc the copyrighted work if done without the consent of the owner.
  • In copyright, any person other than the owner can use such copyrighted material for financial gains, while in trademark there is not only an exclusive right over product and services, indeed, the right to retain it also.
  • Copyright acknowledges the original set of work manufactured by the owner, while trademark establishes a sense of trust and brand value in the minds of the customers to get an edge over its competitors.
  • The duration for which the trademark is protected is too short as compared to the copyright protection duration. Trademark is protected initially for 10 years that can be renewed, while the copyright is protected for 60 years. 
  • The symbol of a registered trademark is ® and the unregistered trademark is ™, while the symbol for copyright is ©.

Copyright and Industrial Design

  • Both copyright and industrial design are subject matter that is protected in the Intellectual Property Rights. Industrial design grants the right to the owner over the outer appearance of the product that can be three-dimensional, two-dimensional, linear, and so on. On the contrary, copyright is the right of an organization or an individual over its intellect and creative work.
  • The scope of industrial design is limited to the outwards appearance of the product. However, there are a few designs that are not eligible to be granted the status of industrial design:
  1. If the outer appearance of the design is particularly because of the technical feature of the product.
  2. If the outer appearance symbolizes civil or industrial construction work.
  3. While utilizing the design, it becomes or is invisible (difficult to ascertain the shape of the design).
  • While in copyright, literary and artistic works are protected. The work here refers to the creation of the mind in the literary, artistic, and scientific sectors. Similar to industrial design, there are a few things that are outside the purview of copyright:
  1. The legal, official, and other legislative documents.
  2. News telecasted by the news channels and reporters.
  3. Operational system and processes.
  • The right over industrial design is granted through the Design Act, 2000, while the copyright is granted via Copyright Act, 1957.
  • The copyright arises at the moment the owner prepares, has completed, or manufactured the product irrespective of its content, whether good or bad, published or not. While industrial design is not granted the moment anyone prepares the design, indeed, it has to undergo verification by the Intellectual Property Office and if they are satisfied, then only the industrial design is granted.
  • In copyright, the registration of the same is not mandatory, while in industrial design, to safeguard the design, it is essential to have an industrial design registered.
  • Similar to patent and trademark, the time duration of industrial design as compared to copyright is much shorter. Industrial design is protected for 5 years, while the copyright is protected for more than 60 years.
  • There are a few conditions that must be fulfilled to get protection under the industrial design:
  1. The design so created shall be novel, fresh, or new.
  2. The design shall mandatorily include an inventive step.
  3. And most importantly, the design is applicable at the industrial level.
  • While in copyright, the protection is granted only when the product is created or prepared by the author or the owner itself through his/her hard work and labour. Most importantly, there shall be no copying of the material from the previously copyrighted material.

Copyright and Geographical Indication

  • Geographical Indications (GI) are granted or permitted to an agricultural, natural, and manufactured product that originated specifically at a fixed location or place.
  • Geographical indication symbolizes a guarantee of quality, authenticity along with the distinctiveness and uniqueness of the merchandise and services. Typically, the GI tag includes the name of the place of origin of the goods and services like Kolhapuri chappals.
  • The prime difference between copyright and geographical indication is that copyright is governed through the Copyright Act, 1957, while the geographical indication is governed through the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.
  • A geographical indication is a right used on the product to determine its origin, while copyright is a bundle of rights that is granted to the owner upon his//her artistic and literary work. The time frame for geographical indication is 10 years, while the time frame for copyright is 60 years.
  • The ministry that governs the copyright in India is the Copyright office, MHRD, while the ministry that governs geographical indication, patent, trademark, and design in India is DPIIT, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.


Though the copyright is a part of Intellectual Property (IP), it still differs from other intellectual properties namely patent, trademark, geographical indication, and design. Under intellectual property rights, two main categories are industrial design (where all the IPs are included except the copyright) and the other is copyright itself. Hence, copyright is a category of intellectual property rights, while the other IPs namely patent, trademark, design, and so on are subcategories of IPR.

Another important aspect that needs to be taken care of is that there is a single ministry (DPIIT, ministry of Commerce and Industry) that governs the industrial design and its sub-categories, while in copyright there is a specific ministry that is the Copyright office, MHRD.


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