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What distinguishes copyrights from trademark rights and patent rights?

The Copyright Act protects "works," meaning creations in literature, science, the arts, or other intellectual realms. The protection afforded by the duly obtained copyrights extends only to the expression of a work. It does not extend to the ideas, concepts, or principles expressed by the work. The Patent Act, on the other hand, protects inventions and creations, and gives the patent right holders an exclusive right to use them during a certain period prescribed by law. No other person may "practice the patent" (i.e. use the patented invention) without permission from the patent owner. The Trademark Act, meanwhile, protects trademark rights. A trademark may be any word, device, symbol, color, sound, three-dimensional shape, or combination thereof that is used to identify one's goods or services. Applications may be filed under the Trademark Act to register a trademark and obtain protection for the right to use it exclusively.

Copyrights, trademark rights, and patent rights are obtained in different ways. Copyright holders automatically enjoy protection from the time a work is finished. To obtain rights of exclusive use of a trademark or patent, however, it is necessary to file an application and successfully undergo an examination and registration process. The periods of protection also differ. The term of copyright protection is, in principle, the lifetime of the creator plus 50 years, and it is not extendable. The term of exclusive trademark protection is 10 years, but may be extended an unlimited number of times, each time for a period of 10 years. The term of patent protection is 20 years for invention patents, and in the case of pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals, one extension of 2 to 5 years may be granted. Utility model patents and design patents are protected for 10 years and 12 years, respectively, and neither may be extended.

  • Publish Date : 2008-04-24
  • Update : 2020-09-09
  • Organization : International Legal Affairs Office
  • Visitors : 839

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