Trademark vs Copyright: Understanding the Difference

In India, trademarks and copyrights are two types of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) that grant exclusive rights to their owners over their creations or products for a limited period. While trademarks are used to differentiate goods or services of a company, copyrights protect original creative works such as videography, photography, literary works, and more.

Understanding the distinctions between trademarks and copyrights is essential for individuals and entities seeking to register their intellectual property. By knowing the differences, they can obtain the correct registration to protect their intellectual property effectively.

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is a phrase, symbol, or design that businesses use to set themselves apart from rival companies’ products or services. The purpose of trademark registration is to safeguard company names, taglines, and brand identities. To register a trademark, applicants file a trademark application with the Registrar of Trademarks.

Trademarks aim to prevent confusion among the public when encountering similar products in the market. They ensure the authenticity of a brand and help maintain its uniqueness. Trademark law grants owners the right to prevent unauthorized use of their trademarks for products or services.

What is Copyright?

Copyright is a right granted to creators of musical, literary, artistic, and dramatic works, as well as producers of computer software, cinematograph films, and sound recordings. It protects the originality of individuals’ works, including artists, writers, designers, musicians, and film producers.

Copyright safeguards original works and prohibits their reproduction, copying, or use without the permission of the creators. Copyright owners have exclusive rights to publish, print, copy, or market their intellectual work. It covers a wide range of creative expressions, such as music, books, movies, photographs, paintings, songs, novels, and dances.

Differences Between Trademark and Copyright

Let’s explore the differences between trademarks and copyrights:

Governing ActThe Trade Marks Act of 1999 regulates trademarks.
Copyrights are governed by the Copyright Act of 1957.
Registering AuthorityThe Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trademarks is responsible for examining trademark registration applications.The Copyright Office handles copyright registration.
ApplicantIndividuals or businesses can apply for trademark registration to protect their logos or symbols associated with goods and services.Authors, music composers, artists, photographers, producers, and software developers can apply for copyright registration to safeguard their original works.
ProtectionTrademarks protect brand names, logos, slogans, or shapes used to sell products and services.Copyrights protect original creative expressions in literary, dramatic, and artistic works.
CoverageTrademarks are used to identify the brand of a product or service.Copyrights apply to original creations in literary, dramatic, and artistic fields.
PurposeTrademarks ensure the exclusivity or distinctiveness of a product or service.Copyrights protect the interests of creators and provide exclusive rights to utilize or distribute their creations.
RecognitionTrademarks help consumers and businesses recognize the standard and quality of a product or service.Copyrights help recognize the original nature of the author’s work.
Validity10 years from the application date, trademark registrations are valid.Copyright registrations are valid for the lifetime of the author and, after their death, for 60 years from the year after their demise.
OwnershipTrademark owners have complete ownership over the registered trademark, protecting the exclusivity of their products or services.Copyright owners have exclusive rights to utilize their copyrighted work for financial gains.
Symbolic RepresentationDuring the trademark registration process, the term ™ is used. Once registration is obtained, the Ⓡ symbol is used.For copyright registration, the © symbol is used.


In summary, trademarks and copyrights are distinct forms of intellectual property rights that provide creators and businesses with legal protection for their creations and brands. Trademarks are utilized to safeguard brand names, logos, and slogans, allowing businesses to differentiate their products or services in the market. Copyrights, on the other hand, protect original artistic, literary, and creative works, ensuring that creators have exclusive rights over their creations.

Understanding the differences between trademarks and copyrights is crucial for individuals and entities seeking to register their intellectual property. By obtaining the correct registration, they can effectively safeguard their rights and prevent unauthorized use or infringement of their creations.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is only for educational purposes. No attorney-client relationship is created when accessing or using this information. The material presented does not constitute legal or professional advice and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

Please note that while efforts have been made to provide accurate and up-to-date information, laws and regulations regarding trademarks and copyrights may vary by jurisdiction and are subject to change. It is recommended to consult with legal professionals for specific guidance related to intellectual property protection and registration in your country or region.

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