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, it also presents a legally recognised 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.

Intellectual property is open to registration, whereby owners/creators/inventors may protect their ideas from unauthorised 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 shall share some insights in this regard.

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 shall briefly discuss the difference with regard to trademarks, patents and copyright.

  1. Trademarks: 

By definition and as per the Trade Marks Act of 1993, a trade mark ‘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 trade mark can be in the form of a logo, slogan, name or even a phrase etc.

  1. Patents: 

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.

  1. 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 with.

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 unauthorised use.

Van Deventer and Van Deventer Incorporated assists with labour law, civil and general litigation, criminal litigation, human rights law, family law matters such as maintenance, divorces, protection orders, Rule 43 applications, Rule 58 applications and others. We also assist in personal injury, company law and deceased estates amidst an array of others.

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