NB: The answers set out here are simplifications which are supplied for guidance only.
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Patents are used to protect inventions. A product or process that has a new technical feature can be patented and benefit from a 20-year term of legal protection.
Trademarks (also spelt “trade marks”) are trade names, logos and other types of representations which are used by traders to distinguish their goods and services from those of other traders.
Designs relate to the way a product looks … its appearance and visual appeal. Designs can be registered as functional designs or as aesthetic designs.
Copying is a normal way of learning but not all forms of copying are lawful.
Plant Breeders' Rights (also known as plant variety rights) are used to protect the exclusive rights of a plant breeder over propagating material and/or harvested material of a new plant variety. A new variety must be distinct, uniform and stable before it will qualify for Plant Breeders’ Rights.