What are the Pros and Cons of Patents and Copyrights for Society?

Patents and copyrights are the two widely practised techniques for protecting intellectual property. A patent is a formal written description of an invention. 

On the other hand, copyrights are IP ownerships that protect an author’s original work from being reproduced without exclusive legal rights.

Key points

  • Patents protect inventions as patent holders can receive financial rewards for giving away their rights to make, sell or use their works.
  • Copyrights protect creative works such as music, films, books, and software. 
  • There are many strict laws for copyright violations under copyright law.

However, both are useful. Therefore, what are the cons and pros of patents and copyrights for society? For quite some time, the two counterparts’ concept has been a matter of controversy, 

Therefore, this article will examine the pros and cons of patents, the types of patents, and patents vs. trademarks, among other things.

What is a patent?

A patent is an intellectual property type that gives inventors the legal right to limit competitors from using their inventions. Inventors get patented to give exclusive legal rights for a fixed period. 

Inventors who have patented the idea and already licensed the product to other companies can license it. To exchange the works, the patentee has to announce the invention’s details to the public according to the U.S Patents and Trademark Office.

What are the main types of patents?

The 2 types of Patents are utility and design patents.

Utility patent

This type of patent covers the creation of a new invention. Companies or individuals cannot make or use the invention with a utility patent unless they have legal rights. Also known as a patent invention, it has been around for 20 years.

Design patent

A design patent is a legal protection regarding the original visual qualities of a manufactured item. One can acquire a design if the product has a distinct configuration, surface ornamentation, or both. 

Normally, they are issued for original simple designs. Generally, patents can only be granted for designs with purely 2-d dimensions/designs already patented. This video explains more.

What are the pros and cons of patents?

Patents have both advantages and disadvantages. If you desire to be a patent owner, you need to check all aspects; all the pros and cons. Below are several advantages and disadvantages of patents compared to other IP types.

One advantage of a patent system is the opportunity for exclusive rights to own a market and control its application. As a result, the markets are free, and new products can be bought and sold willingly. 

This can only be impossible if they are illegal. Furthermore, patent laws in different countries differ according to the constitution. For this reason, the patent expires and needs to be renewed after 20 years

In addition, this intellectual property type offers superior rights if it is willfully infringed. Therefore, according to the United States Constitution, the patent owner should be compensated for the actual damages.

Having exclusive rights also excludes people from making, selling, importing, and using the product. The United States Patent and Trademark Office’s exclusive legal rights enhance all these and will not tolerate any changes from third parties. 

According to Leason, there are limited circumstances when awarding a monopoly to individuals for promoting the progress of science and the useful arts.

Another competitive advantage of the patent system is attracting funding and investors. With patent rights, you’ll get enough resources, time, and space to create products. In return, the investors get enough profits.

The third advantage is the boost of prestige. Besides companies seeking patents, some consider them to boost their status and ego. Therefore, a patent is an important milestone because it opens the way to promotions, bonuses, bragging rights, and salary increments.

A patent creates room for innovation by discouraging inventors with basic and common technology. It is the best platform for those ready for innovation and willing to adjust and revamp original works.

Typically, innovation cannot be exhausted, so creating the “A and B” into a whole new “C or D” is better. In addition, patents are easily commercialized in that acquiring them from the United States Patent and Trademark Office is the real deal. 

It is a tangible, movable, inheritable, and transactional asset. The key benefit of commercialization is that each party to a potential patent sale or license can assess the value using measurable standards. 

The patent can raise prices to higher levels than the exact prices since there is no competition. This creates abnormal profits.


Below are the disadvantages of patents.

First, getting a patent is not as easy as many think. It requires a lot of effort to avoid running behind the latest technology. Also, the patent application process is complex.

After getting a patent, many people think everything is good. But, as much as it might be, people can steal and modify your invention. However, you can seek assistance from the Federal Court or ITC to enforce your rights. 

Paying attorneys from a law firm to do a follow-up is an expensive process. 

Most of all, monitoring infringers is a huge task. The Trademark Office also requires a fee for filling and maintaining the application. Costs involve direct costs for legal services like the inventor’s time.

Another primary disadvantage is limited time. They have a huge advantage but less time. For sure, they do expire. So, you’ll have to put more effort before the time is up. The government will reward the invention but for a specified time.

For instance, they protect articles of manufacture for the appearance of qualities. Another disadvantage is that patents last for a short time compared to other intellectual property types.

On the flip side,  design patents provide 15 years of protection, but it doesn’t apply to functional items. 20 years of protection are given for utility patents.

In exchange for monopoly protection, the government requires that the inventor disclose the exact nature of the inventions described in the patent. For instance, how the inven­tions work, the problems addressed, and how designs differ in a novel way from the prior art. 

This is a disadvantage since competitors know how the invention works. But on the other hand, it creates room for them to use or sell the product.

What does it take to become a patent holder?

Owning a patent means you have exclusive rights to your inventions, but you need to meet this requirement to be called a patent holder.

New Product

First, you need a valid patent application when the invention is new. In reality, you cannot patent a product already on the market. This is against the laws because it will be willfully infringing on someone else’s idea. 

The owner receives compensation when the court finds that it is an infringement. Patent owners have a chance to protect and make innovations in their products.

Innovations should be inventive

Patent owners are required by the law to have inventive products. This comes down to the process, obviousness, and the invention itself. If it is obvious, then it is not patentable.

It should be useful because it is made following the claim and invention in the patent. But this does not apply where one or many people can buy it.

If you have been selling the product, licensed it, or using the process in your business, or if you have licensed it, this prior use disqualifies it from being patentable.

How do patents benefit society?

This type of IP contributes a lot to society. It positively affects society because it sparks innovation and helps develop new products.

When an inventor obtains a patent, they get the right to prevent others from using branded products, making and selling their product, with the right to sell the item exclusively and for a higher price.

What are the cons of copyright?

As mentioned earlier, copyright is a form of protection that attaches to original work. For instance, music is recorded on a compact disk to show that it has an owner. So, copyright protects the invention of the copyright owner. 

Also, the owner is entitled to actual damages, any additional profits enjoyed by the infringer, or statutory damages. However, it has the following drawbacks.

The main disadvantage of copyrights is little protection. For instance, a company only protects a specific expression of an idea (such as words and images), not the exact idea.

So, if you create an idea, it will be illegal for others to reproduce it, but they can still utilize the design of the patent holder.

People may omit to obtain other forms of appropriate protection, such as patent protection. This is because they believe copyright protection protects more than it does.

According to the United States Constitution, you must register your work to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement

Additionally, if you want to pursue statutory damages and attorney fees, you must finish registration no later than three months after publishing or before an infringement occurs. Generally, the process requires a filing fee and takes time to address such changes.

When Do You Become a Patent Owner?

A patent owner is an individual with the power to file a patent application and respond if it is pending. 

According to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) rules, a patent is issued with the maximum profit to permit others to broadcast your project as much as the patent holder may enjoy benefits.

What are the pros and cons of intellectual property?

An IP aids in building your brand. However, it has both good and bad sides. Here are the main benefits and disadvantages.

No fees

You will not get charged if you want to enhance or change your invention. However, this applies when it is not formally protected. So ensure you get a formal patent once the product is complete. 

Patent protection in your IP will help you stand out among competitors. This is because other businesses will fail to use your product.

Income generation

IP aids in generating more income. That is only possible through selling your inventions or; licensing agreements. Intellectual property means your business will be worth it if you sell it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a full or partial sale. 

Easy marketing

You can market your business’s products and services easily with an IP. But you need to have a trademark or patent over your IP. For instance, the design or logo can help you stand out and attract more customers. 

Access to finance

Intellectual property protection will create room for accessing money from financial institutions. It simply enhances credibility. Also, intellectual property will boost a way for you to shine in the export markets.

You can use your logo and designs to market yourself internationally. However, for better results, have franchising agreements with international businesses to increase profits.

Apart from the good side, IP has disadvantages. Here are some of them.

Added costs

The primary advantage is additional costs. So, you need a lot of money to protect your IP, for instance, for complex products with different methods and designs. 

You might fill out different patent applications to protect a single product here. You also need a lawyer to help in the process. Additionally, there are filing fees and additional expenses. 


It can be difficult to stop or prevent consumers from infringement. Individuals can take your product and sell or use it without your consent. Furthermore, the quality of your product can reduce when the intellectual property rights reduce. 

This is because the incentives become less to complete the work. Also, If the company is aware that its intellectual property rights are not absolute, it will be reluctant to invest time and resources. 

What are the benefits and drawbacks of patents vs. trade secrets?

As mentioned earlier, a patent is an exclusive right granted by a government to an inventor. On the other hand, trade secrets are confidential information used in developing new products and services. 

Compared to other IP types, patents and popular trademarks are essential to inventors. However, they have benefits and drawbacks. Check out the main advantages and disadvantages.

While the two offer protection, patents operate where the company publicly discloses inventive properties. This type of protection is limited in time – up to 20 years. On the other hand, trade secrets have indefinite protection. 

The length of protection depends on the amount of money invested in development and the investment in them. 

A good example is Coca-Cola, a brand that commands a market premium. It doesn’t hold a patent on its secret cola recipe. In general, patent protection is stronger. By filling out an application, you can protect a trade secret under the law. 

While trade secrets last for 10 years, patents last longer. Typically, a patent is 20 years from the date filled. Also, the holder can sell a patent as part of a business sale. 

But, on the flip side, trade secret holders can’t sell their secrets because they are considered confidential and not subject to public disclosures. 

Patents require the applicant to make their idea public knowledge. While a well-kept trade secret may exist forever, the law regarding trade secrets does not preclude a third party from independently or reverse-engineering the innovation.

Trade secrets’ intrinsic secrecy provides them with legal protection. Contrarily, the only way to defend a patent is by making it public. The patent application process is expensive and drawn out. 

In contrast to the security expenses required to keep the information secret, protection under a trade secret is immediate and significantly less expensive.

The final word

Before taking a product to the market, an inventor must safeguard it with a patent, copyright, trademark, or trade secret. These types of intellectual property play a big role in individuals and companies. 

Therefore, what are the pros and cons of copyrights and patents to society? The two counterparts aid in creating innovation, but they can be expensive and time-consuming. So, do your maths well and select the one that suits you best. 

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