Many people are often confused with comparing two of the most commonly referred to types of intellectual property, patents and copyrights.
In dealing with the subject matter of both patents and copyrights, patents are defined as inventions involving any useful process including an abstract or non-mechanical process such as a computer software program. A copyrighted work refers to a written idea or work by an author. The written work can be a manuscript, instruction guide, sheet music, poetry, etc. that is in itself not a original concept.
A patent will not be issued if the invention idea or concept was “known to others” at least one year prior to the application date; or if it was previously “abandoned by the inventor”. A copyright on the other hand will be given only to an original work that was not copied from another source (i.e. plagiarism).
While it may take as long as 3 years for a patent to be granted, a copyright is almost instantaneous as long as a “tangible medium” is used to notify others of the author’s ownership. To be on the safe side, a written work can be registered through a governmental entity, although this registration is not required.
The length of protection of a patent and copyright is also much different. A patent is usually in force for a maximum period of 20 years, whereas a copyright can be in force for as long as 70 to 120 years after the author’s death.
Ownership rights for both patents and copyrights can be reassigned to others, such as employers (if the invention or written material was ordered by a person’s employer). In the case of a literary article or manuscript that was ordered written on a “work for hire” basis (by a “ghost writer”, etc.), the authorship will be assigned to the person or entity that ordered it to be completed. The same applies to buying and selling patents and copyrights as described on https://azbigmedia.com/business/why-new-inventors-turn-to-inventhelp-for-support/.
And while experimental used of a patented idea or concept is very limited; a copyrighted work can be reproduced or transferred to others, such a library or reference entity, if permission is granted by the author or his heirs.