Patents, Trademarks & Copyrights - What Is The Difference? | Legal Articles


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Patents, Trademarks & Copyrights - What Is The Difference?

Registering a right of title over a thing that one owns, comes with immense benefits. Not only does it bring certainty and security, but it also presents a legally recognized premise upon which one can enforce their rights over that thing.

Generally speaking, many people prefer to be optimistic about certain things in life, but often at times things don’t go according to the way they anticipated. Often when this happens, disputes arise and sometimes parties end up in the courts to resolve the issues. Therefore, it is advisable for parties to register their title rights due to the security and certainty it comes with.

what is a copyright

Copyright vs Patent vs Trademark

Intellectual property is open to registration, whereby owners/creators/inventors may protect their ideas from unauthorized use by third parties. The difference in relation to patents, trademarks and copyrights is not so bare especially to parties who are not involved in that particular field.

In this article we share some insights on this matter.

While legal protection against trademark infringement is effective upon registration, trademarks are also protected under the Common Law, subject to requirements which must be proven. Proving ownership of an unregistered trademark may be an expensive, winding and sometimes a hopeless process mainly because in practice, proving the attendant requirements is not as straight-forward as it looks on paper.

This is why it is advisable for parties to register their title rights over intellectual property.

Nonetheless, we will briefly discuss the difference with regard to trademarks, patents, and copyright.

What is a Trademark?

By definition and as per the Trademarks Act of 1993, a trademark ‘means a mark used or proposed to be used by a person in relation to goods or services for the purpose of distinguishing the goods or services in relation to which the mark is used or proposed to be used from the same kind of goods or services connected in the course of trade with any other person.’

A trademark can be in the form of a logo, slogan, name or even a phrase etc.

What is a Patent?

Inventions that are useful and new such as machines, processes and/or designs, may be protected by the registration of patents. Unlike copyright protection, patents need to be applied for and granted. There are three main types of patents being utility patents, design patents, and plant patents.

What is Copyright?

These are rights, exclusive or otherwise, to original works of authorship such as movies, books, songs etc. Copyrights confer the privilege to reproduce the work, distribute, perform, sell, or display it. These rights may also be assigned and licensed to a third party with whom the copyright owner has an agreement.

We trust that the difference in relation to copyrights, patents, and trademarks, which are all forms of intellectual property, has been clarified. We advise parties to register their intellectual property so as to protect their rights and avoid unauthorized use.

Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated – Attorneys in Johannesburg and Cape Town

Our attorneys are able to provide legal assistance when it comes to patents, copyrights, and trademarks as part of our comprehensive legal services.

Contact us for more information.


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