Difference between IPR and Patent


What is the difference between patent and IPR? This is a question that crosses the mind of every first-time inventor. As an inventor, you can gain exclusive monopoly over your invention, by filling or registering for the appropriate Intellectual Property Rights. If you have created something extra-ordinary, something unique that has never been invented before, you can file for a patent, which is a type of an Intellectual Property Right or IPR. If, you think about it, the world we are living in is surrounded by new ideas, innovations and creations. Every day, thousands of people approach the patent office to file patents for their inventions, but only some inventions are deemed patentable. However, every new innovation has the power to enhance our life and make it more comfortable than it was before. As per a survey conducted by KPMG in 2018, India was ranked the third largest innovator in the world, especially in the technology space. But every new invention and every new creation is someone’s brainchild. The person or entity responsible for the innovation or creation should receive due credit for their invention. This is where Intellectual Property Rights or IPRs come in to play. However, many people often confuse IPR with patents. So, we’ve highlighted the differences between IPR and patents.

3-1Patent vs IPR – Comparing the definitions

To understand the difference between IPR and patent, we must first understand their definitions.

What are IP and IPR?

IP stands for Intellectual Property, whereas IPR stands for Intellectual Property Rights. The term IP is used in reference to original, novel creations and inventions which differentiate or set a business apart from another. Creators should get the exclusive monopoly and commercial benefits for their IPs. These rights are afforded to inventors and creators under the umbrella of intellectual property rights. 

Broadly speaking, IPR is a vast domain that covers a variety of inventions and creations. There are laws in place that can protect your innovative inventions, processes designs, and literary works and so on. These laws are known as Intellectual Property Rights. IPRs are widely applied to all kinds of innovations and inventions, which include Trademarks, Copyrights, Trade Secrets and also Patents.

What is a patent?

A patent is essentially an Intellectual property right which protects new inventions and non-obvious discoveries. When you invent something, you can file for a patent and get the exclusive rights to monopolise your invention. The Patent Office evaluates whether the invention is indeed new and grants you the Patent in approximately 2-3 years, after following a due process. The Patent is protected under an IPR law, which you can leverage to use your invention the way you deem fit – whether to set up a business or license the invention.

The Government of India grants the patent rights to you in the form of a certificate, which doubles as a legal document protecting your rights to your invention. Once you file for the Patent, you can also take legal action against individuals and entities replacing or reproducing your designs for monetary gains, without seeking your permission. In India, Patents are only granted for new designs currently. However, inventors who wish to file utility and plants patents can do in countries such as Australia, China and most other European countries.

Patent vs IPR – the key differences

So, what is the difference between Patent and IPR? Let’s break down the differences between the two.

  1. General vs standalone

    IPR represents the general laws that protect all types of innovations and creations, be it new designs, literary works like novels, movies, songs, etc., as well as trademarks like brand logos. Trade secrets and processes are also protected under IPR, as are patents. A patent, however, is a document or legal certificate given for protecting a design, utility or innovation, which comes under the broad umbrella of IPRs.

  2. Categories and sub-categories

    IPRs are further categorised into different types based on the fields and type of inventions or creations. The categories include trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and also patents. Patents have their own sub-categories. Inventors can file patents for designs, utilities, and asexually reproduced plants. The utility patent is further categorised as patents for machines, manufacturers, compositions of matter and improvements to these categories. In India, one can only file for design patents. They can, however, apply for utility and plant patterns in several foreign countries.

  3. Laws governing Patents and IPRs in India

    3-2The Intellectual Property Law deals with protecting all the sub-categories of IPR. As such IPRs in India are protected under various Acts such as the Copyright Act, 1957, the Trade Marks Act, 1999, and the Geographical Indications of Goods Act, 1999, which are all subsections of the Primary IPR law. Patent and patent protection, on the other hand, is covered under acts like the Patents Act, 1970 (amended in 2005) the Designs Act, 2000, the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Right Act, 2001, the Information Technology Act, 2000, the Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Layout Design Act, 2000, etc.

  4. Filing and Applicability

    Another point of difference between IPR and patents involves filing and applicability. Trademarks and copyrights are IPR laws which are typically universal in nature, which means they are automatically applicable across the world, and, creators do not have to register for these creations. Conversely, one has to file a patent application to get exclusive rights. Furthermore, the Patent only applies within the country in which it is filed, unlike other IPRs which are universally applicable. However, inventors may apply for international, country-specific patents as well.

Final word: As is apparent, it is rather challenging to compare the differences between IPR and patents as one cannot exist without the other. As an inventor or innovator, you should know about the various IPR laws and types. While filing for a patent IPR, you can hire patent experts and lawyers to help you navigate through the patent filing process. 


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