Patents Trademarks And Copyright  Information
What Is The Difference?

Part 4  Part 3

Patents Trademarks And Copyright Information

This webpage is about Patents, Trademarks, and Copyright information, and denotes the various elements composing Intellectual Property Protection Law. This investigation examines the differences between them. It is a generic composition intended as a starting point on the road to familiarity with intellectual property law in your own jurisdiction.


The major difference between copyright and other intellectual property protection is that copyright protection is automatic and free

The major difference between Copyright Law and most other intellectual property protection law is that copyright protection is automatic. And cost free, as in the monetary sense.

Electronic circuit layouts are an exception.

All other categories, apart from Copyright, and Electronic Circuit Layouts, need to be registered, to qualify for legal protection, by following an application procedure whereby each application is investigated by skilled examiners.

Each protection submission carries application fees, often fees are renewable, if your submission is successful. Non refundable, if your submission fails.

In addition, one can expect a time delay of at least some duration, depending on an examiner's workload. In the case of Patents, this duration can be considerable.

Following is a brief description of other Intellectual Property categories.


Subject to a number of restrictions, Patents are intended to protect the rights of a patent holder to exclusively exploit the commercial potential of an invention, or innovation, over the lifetime of the patent. Usually a span of eight years for an innovation, and twenty years for a full blown invention.

Patents, however are becoming their own enemy.

Intellectual Property Law has reached a crisis point. Micro-management saturation is placing such a burden on what should be a simple, and clear cut, process that it is doomed to a slow but inevitable death. The demoralizing first step in applying for a Patent is to engage a legal team to go into battle on your behalf. With no guarantee of success. The unscrupulous antics of vested interests is the enemy of progress in this battle.

Squabbling and bickering is not a formula for Harmonious Industrial Growth.

There has to be, and there is, better ways to prevent the unscrupulous from taking parasitic advantage of the industrious. It appears to be that these original good intentions of patents have been lost in a maze of time and money squandering legality.

Trade Mark

Company Names, Business Names, Trading Names - Bloggs Investments, trading as Warm Widgets, for example - and Internet Domain Names, must be registered. Registration usually attracts a fee.

Protection is the function of a registered trade mark

Registration requires periodic renewal.

Name registration is a regular tracking method and does not offer legal protection or exclusive rights.

Protection is the function of a registered Trade Mark.

In common with copyright law, registered Trade Marks extend legal protection to the holder, and certain exclusive commercial rights.

A distinctive Trade Mark, limited only by your Imagination, can provide agreeable recognition of your goods, and or services, and sets you apart from others in your field of business.

To gain legal protection, and exclusive rights, Trade Marks are initially registered for a certain period, with renewal options. But a trade mark must be active, or it's registration lapses, and it may be claimed, along with any accrued benefits, such as Goodwill, by another entity.

Trade Secret

A Trade Secret is a body of knowledge that contains a substantial commercial advantage, is not easily resolved or reverse engineered, and few people are privy to.

A cost effective, time saving, admittedly calculated risk alternative, compared to the complex and demanding process of a Patent Application, Trade Secrets offer an exciting option where applicable.

The one downside is foregoing Patent Protection.

Coca-Cola is one of the best examples of the effective implementation of a Trade Secret. This venerable company possesses uncomplicated product formulas and watertight confidentiality agreements with the minimum number of people.

A Trade Secret offers a distinctive advantage over a Patent as long as it stays secret.

Not being restricted by time limits in Law Of The Land, a Trade Secret remains viable as long as confidentiality can be maintained. There may be no Patent Protection, but if no outsider cracks the secret, it can outlive a patent life span many times over.

In Coca-Cola's case to date, that is more than six times, and She is still going strong.

Confidentiality Agreement

In keeping with the original aim of protecting expression of thought without hindering the flow of ideas, there is no statutory protection for ideas themselves. But there is an exception.

The exception to no protection for ideas is the confidentiality agreement

The exception to no Common Law legal protection for ideas is the formal Confidentiality Agreement.

Confidentiality is a barely mentioned alternative in Australian Intellectual Property Acts. Being considered  only in relation to honoring a previously made compact.

Yet here in Australia, as in many Countries, there is nothing to prevent a person in possession of a brilliant, or for that matter any concept, from pursuing a well Thought out, confidentiality agreement, readily available via Common Law.

An equitable, reciprocal, document, whereby anyone involved in the course of execution of that concept Agrees to the terms of secrecy, before such a concept is revealed to him or her.

A sound confidentiality agreement is the Backbone of the Trade Secret.


Design relates to the unique appearance of an artifact with emphasis on innovative and distinctive visual features.

In Australia, the Design Act 2003, offers comparable protection to that afforded Copyright in the sense of Creative Freedom. Put less formally, this could be interpreted as, “We welcome innovation, but not duplication”.

This is not an invitation to be lazy

Again, the message is crystal clear, be inspired by existing work, but do not copy.

To facilitate legal protection, Designs are required to be registered.

Qualified examiners ensure existing registered designs are not infringed upon before granting protected status to a new application.

This is not an invitation to be lazy.

Thorough research is simply good and practical, economic management. Each submission for registration must be paid for. Whether or not an application is granted protected status.

A prudent step, before submitting a Design for protected status, is to search all the available data bases in one's own jurisdiction. This step is sound advice and applies when dealing with Intellectual Property Rights Law across the board. We learn best by doing.

An alternative, of course, is to seek competent legal assistance.

Electronic circuit layout

Electronic Circuit Layouts automatically enjoy rights similar to those afforded to Copyright. And in Australia this component of Intellectual Property Law is administered under it's own independent act. Namely, The Circuit Layouts Act !989.

Plant Breeders Rights

Similar to Patent holders, plant breeders are also extended exclusive commercial rights. In the plant breeders case, to new varieties of plants that they may invent or develop. As with Patents and Designs, plant breeders Inventions, and Innovations, must be registered to gain legal protection.

Useful Patents Trademarks And Copyrights Information

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