Intellectual Property (IP)

Last updated: June 3, 2021

What Does Intellectual Property (IP) Mean?

Intellectual property (IP) is any intangible asset that is created from an original thought, such as an idea, name, content, design, invention or digital media. Intellectual property rights (IPR) refer to the rights of IP owners and authors.

IP is divided into two categories: industrial property and copyright.


Techopedia Explains Intellectual Property (IP)

Industrial property covers:

  • Patents (inventions): Require public registration and provide up to 20 years of protection against any unauthorized use, likeness and unfair competition.
  • Industrial design: Protects creations that define or describe a product, including trademarks and commercial names and logos.
  • Geographical source indications

Copyright protects rights related to literary and artistic creations, including:

  • Art and literary works: Books, film, sound recordings, software, designs
  • Performances
  • Radio and TV broadcasters
  • Technology-based works, such as computer programs and databases

Copyright law protects IP owners against unauthorized use or replication. Although copyright registration is not required, it is recommended to ensure formalized IP documentation.

The International Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Berne Convention, Berne or Bern) is an international copyright agreement that originated in Berne, Switzerland in the late 19th century. Berne governance requires that Berne Union members, or signatories, provide automatic protection for any work originally published in any Berne Union country, as well as any unpublished work of an author in other Union countries.


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